Yesterday, it was super smoky in our California town, so we decided to take a family day somewhere closer to the coast to escape the fiery skies.
We randomly chose Benicia, in the northern San Francisco bay area. Turns out, it was a cute little town with an added bonus of some cool history.
For one year in the 1800s, the small California town of around 30,000 was a big player in the state.
For a bit more than a year, during 1853-1854, it was the state capitol. It stole the position from the town of Vallejo, after state legislators complained about inadequate furniture and sleeping quarters. They convened in Benicia City Hall building, shown here, which was built in 1852.
But shortly after, they realized Benicia wasn’t much of an upgrade and after some finagling, moved the state capitol to Sacramento. On Feb. 25, 1854, the governor and legislature took a steamship to their new digs, despite the objections of Benicia’s townspeople who wanted them to stay.
The original building has been restored and boasts reconstructed period furnishings and exhibits including desks from the 1850s, a 19th century newspaper, quill pen and a top hat.
The building became a California Historic Landmark in 1935 and landed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.