Original Capitol

Learn about the Construction and Expansion of the Original California State Capitol between 1769-1975

Original Capitol Building

The Floating Capital

Finding a permanent home for the capital was crucial for Californians in order to solidify the state’s stability in the nation. Over the past 150 years, both the location of the “seat of government” and the design of the structure were constantly in flux.

Capitol Under Construction

Capitol Construction

The Capitol’s construction took 14 years, from 1860-1874, although the government moved into the building in 1869. Major flooding, labor shortages, material scarcities, a major war, and changes in leadership all contributed to the slow pace of construction, and created a great scandal.

State Capitol Annex Building in Progress

Expansions and Renovations

By the early 1900s, the California State Library and other state departments were in critical need of space. In 1906, the Capitol underwent a remodel and added a fourth floor. However, several state agencies, including the Supreme Court, had previously moved to San Francisco, which put Sacramento at risk of losing the status as the state capital.

Capitol Park in 1900s

Capitol Park

California’s State Capitol Park expanded from four city blocks in 1854 to twelve city blocks by 1917. The beautification and construction of Capitol Park began in 1869 and soon became one of the most beautiful capitol parks in the nation.

New Capitol Design for Collier Towers

Capitol at Risk

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a continued debate over a proposal to replace the Capitol building. Senator Randolph Collier proposed a new modern building consisting of two glass towers, named “Collier Towers.” Indeed, it looked as though the original Capitol building might be destroyed.

California State Capitol Museum — Building a Legacy: 150 Years of the California State Capitol

This was a website specifically for the “Building a Legacy: 150 Years of the California State Capitol” Exhibit which ran May 20, 2019 – March 22, 2020 at the California State Capitol Museum.

For Museum-related information such as contacts, hours and location: Visit capitolmuseum.ca.gov.