San Jose (1849-1851)

San Jose Capitol
150 South Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113
California State Capital (1849-1852)

Based on several historic maps the location of the San Jose structure is located in what is now the entrance to the San Jose Fairmont Hotel. A small plaque (dedicated by the Native Sons of the Golden West) is located one the eastern side of Plaza de Cesar Chavez. A larger marker (dedicated by the State of California) is located just north of the Hotel. California’s first state capital, the legislature met in San Jose for the first time on December 15, 1849. The building was 60 feet long, 40 feet wide, and two stories high. The San Jose Capitol Building was destroyed by a fire in 1853. The location was covered by a large parking lot until the Fairmont Hotel was constructed on the site.

The California Supreme Court issued a decision that San Jose was the legal state capital. From April 1854 to January 1855, the state courts and court archive were located in San Jose. A January court decision reversed the earlier decision and declared that Sacramento was the legal capital of California. In 1893, E.C. Seymour introduced SCA 23, which would move the state capital to San Jose. It passed the Senate 27 to 8 and the Assembly 57 to 7. The removal was challenged, and the Supreme Court overturned the law, on the basis that it was ineffective (because San Jose hadn’t yet officially donated land for the new Capitol.