The California State Capitol is home to the U.S. state government of California. The building houses the bicameral state legislature and the governor’s office. Located in Sacramento, the Neoclassical structure was completed between 1861 and 1874 at the western end of Capitol Park, which is framed by L Street to the north, N Street to the south, 10th Street to the west and 15th Street to the east.
The building was completed between 1861 and 1874. The Capitol and the grounds were registered at the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and listed as California Historical Landmark in 1974, re-dedicated on 9 January 1982 to commemorate the completion of the bicentennial restoration project. The building underwent major renovations, known as the California State Capitol Restoration, from 1975 to 1982, to restore the Capitol to its former beauty and to renovate the earthquake safety structure. Although not generally considered to be a land of earthquakes, in 1892 Sacramento was struck by two earthquakes that had damaged the Capitol.
Capitol is home to two stunning murals, one depicting California’s past , present and future in 1914, and the other depicting the origin of the name of the state.
In 1913, the California State Legislature seized a thousand to decorate the Capitol Rotunda as part of a trend to bring art and history to the building. Arthur F. Mathews, a prominent San Francisco artist, was commissioned to create a series of murals depicting the history of California. Mathews completed twelve murals in four sets of three (triptychs) in time for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition.
The murals are an excellent example of a regional artistic style known as ‘California Decorative.’ Arthur and his wife, Lucia Kleinhans Mathews, combined romantic classicism and idealism with a Renaissance color palette and California imagery to create this distinctive style.
Mathew ‘s 12 murals were on display in the first floor of the rotunda until the beginning of the Capitol’s restoration project in 1976. At that time, the walls were removed and preserved. In 1981, they were installed in the rotunda basement to better preserve the original appearance of the rotunda on the first floor. This installation protected the historic artwork of California and its Capitol.
Pietro Mezzara, California’s first major sculptor, created a statuary on the roof and pediment of the Capitol. In 1873, thirty figures, urns and emblems adorned the Capitol.
These elements were removed during the renovation of the Capitol in 1906 and subsequently lost. Today, only the statuary of the western front pediment tympanum (the recessed space enclosed by the triangular pediment) is original. These statues reflect the roots of the Capitol in Greek architecture. In Greek times, the statuary was considered part of the building, not merely a decoration. It was a way of visually communicating and transmitting epics and mythology to a largely illiterate society.