Sacramento (1852-1869)

Sacramento I: State Capitol (1852, 1854)
Location: 651 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

Because of the difficulties establishing a permanent center of government in San Jose, Vallejo and Benicia, the City of Sacramento offered their Courthouse to the state for use as a capitol. The state legislature agreed and the Sacramento County’s Courthouse (located on the Northwest corner of 7th and I Streets) served as the capitol from 1852 to 1854 (with a short recess to San Francisco in 1853 due to large scale flooding. The legislature apparently found the location acceptable, because no plans were made to relocate to another city. However, about a month after the adjournment of the 1854 legislature, on July 13th, the wooden courthouse “along with a considerable portion of the city” was destroyed in a massive fire.

Sacramento II: State Capitol (1855-1869)
Location: 651 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
With the legislature scheduled to meet again in Sacramento early the following year, the recently destroyed Sacramento County Courthouse was quickly rebuilt following the fire of 1854. Construction of the new courthouse (to serve temporarily as capitol) began on September 1854 and was finished in December. The new courthouse was described as a two-story “classical, temple-styled building” with eight Ionic columns. The building was home to the Assembly and Senate chambers, offices for the clerks and legislative officers, as well as the State Controller and Treasurer.

Sacramento County Jail (in 2008)

Although designed with the legislature in mind, the new structure was a little small for the growing state government. The building, although always viewed by both Sacramento and the state as a temporary home, served an important purpose by allowing the careful selection and and orderly construction of the new capitol without the rush that had characterized the earlier moves. The second capitol at Sacramento continued to serve as the capitol for 14 years, as the new state capitol was being constructed six blocks away. In fact, it wasn’t until 1869, when the current Capitol building was occupied, that the legislature moved. This site is now the location of the Sacramento County Jail.

Starting in 1870, the building returned to use as the Sacramento County Courthouse. The building was redesigned in 1913, but remained a courthouse until 1965, when a new building opened nearby. The former Courthouse was then leveled and the existing building, the Sacramento County Jail was built in 1989.

A new marker was installed on June 27, 2007 that gives a good history of buildings that previously stood on the site. It replaced an earlier Historical Landmark that only noted the 1852-1854 tenure of the site.