According to the original architectural plans, the public would have entered the Capitol through the elaborately carved wooden portico shown here. A grand staircase was to rise from the street level. However, as construction delays occurred and costs rose, this plan was scrapped, and the entrance we use today became California's "doorway to democracy."
This original doorway, the only one remaining in the building today, displays the architectural style of a Greco-Roman portico. Its elaborate style invokes the feel of a temple with its miniature pediment, frieze and tympanum over the doors.
The pediment on the west side of the Capitol contains statuary created by Pietro Mezzara. In the center stands Minerva, an 11-foot-high figure dressed in classical robes, holding a lance and shield with a bear crouched at her feet. The statues to her left symbolize Justice and Mining, those to her right Education and Industry.
Pietro Mezzara is best known for the sculpted figures he created for public buildings. Born in France to an Italian family, Mezzara came to California in 1850 to mine for gold. By 1857 he had a studio in San Francisco where he made cameos, medallions, and portrait busts.