Thursday, February 16, 2017

80 North: Benicia, Benicia Capitol State Historic Park + Fischer-Hanlon House


Benicia Capitol State Historic Park  115 W. G St./First St., (707) 745-3385.  Thur 12-4pm, F-Sun 10-5. $3, 6-17 $2.  Historic information, artifacts, and period furniture await visitors inside this restored 2-story, red brick Greek Revival building that served as the third state capitol from February 4, 1853 to February 25, 1854.  Because there were no building codes then and plenty of workers, it was built in less than 5 months.  Most building materials are local.  In the first floor Senate Chambers, each desk is topped by a hat.  Depending on which way the owner planned to vote on the item being discussed, their hat faced either right-side up (yay) or down (nay).  This capitol operated during the heat of the Gold Rush, and hundreds of bills were passed, including one that allows women to own property.  It is claimed that except for a voting technicality, the state capitol would still be here.  After being used as a schoolhouse, a jailhouse, and a firehouse (once it even served as a roller skating rink), this property was restored and opened in 1958 as a state historic park.  Occasional Living History events bring it all to life. 

exterior of Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California
exterior of Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California

interior of Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California
interior of Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California




Next to the Capitol in the park is the 1858 Federal-style Victorian Fischer-Hanlon House (135 W. G St.), a renovated Gold Rush-era hotel that also once was a house of prostitution.  It was donated to the state in 1966 and  is said to have a ghost.  The house holds an impressive collection of original period furniture and accessories, including an 1864 Box Steinway made in New York and brought here by ship, and its kitchen features an ornate wood-burning stove and a linoleum floor that looks like an oriental rug.  A carriage house and three-hole out house is behind the house, along with a garden holding a century-old wisteria.  Tours are sometimes available. 

exterior of Fischer-Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California
exterior of Fischer-Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California

1864 Box Steinway piano in Fischer-Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California
1864 Box Steinway piano in Fischer-Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California

dining room at Fischer-Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California
dining room at Fischer-Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California

kitchen at Fischer-Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California
kitchen at Fischer-Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California

bedroom in Fischer-Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California
bedroom in Fischer-Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park in Benicia, California

More things to do in Benicia.

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images and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 



3 comments:

  1. I love historic sites like this. Walking around Fischer-Hanlon House must give you a real sense of the past.

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  2. What an interesting place to visit! Such history. I loved the video on the old-time copier. Up to 12 hours for one copy - no we can get one in seconds and even that seems long some days. Amazing!

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  3. I love visiting old houses to see the past preserved. the Fischer-Hanlon house looks so interesting!

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