1933 Treasurer’s Office

Virtually Tour This Historic Room

This office is preserved to show visitors what the offices looked like at the turn of the twentieth century, and is available as a Virtual Tour.

Protecting California’s Financial Assets

A new steel vault was constructed in 1928. By that time, a series of California Bank Acts allowed for the deposit of state funds in commercial banks. State bonds and securities, rather than gold and silver, now occupied the majority of the vault’s space.

By 1933 however, the Great Depression was devastating California and on March 1, 1933, the State of California withdrew all of its unsecured funds from private banks and placed them in the Treasurer’s vault. Two days later, Governor James Rolph, Jr., declared a mandatory three-day banking holiday in an effort to prevent a run on California’s banks. The day-to-day operations of the Treasurer’s vault were greatly affected.

In the 1930s, the Treasurer’s vault had been divided into two sections by a seven-foot-high metal grill containing a door that allowed passage between the two sections. One side housed the vault officers’ desks. The vault officers were in charge of delivering and receiving authorized bonds, as well as maintaining security over the vault and its contents. On the other side, a deposit officer kept track of the daily sales and receipt of bonds and securities. The deposit officer also prepared the monthly report to the State Controller, which listed the state’s investments as well as the contents of the vault.

The steel vault was used until 1975, when the Capitol Restoration Project began and the State Treasury was moved to its current location at 915 Capitol Mall, across 10th Street from the State Capitol. The vault at Capitol Mall is an example of modern-day technology. The 23-ton main door is made of a combination of various metals and concrete designed to prevent drilling and torching. It has a combination lock that requires two people to open it. The vault contains three airlocks and two emergency ventilators to provide air to anyone who might become locked inside. Sound and motion detectors that are linked to an alarm system electronically survey the area surrounding the vault.

Listen to an audio recording about the Historic Treasurer’s Office

1933 treasurer's office
1933 bond ledger
main safe door
glass pen stand