Benicia California--an arts, culture and history haven 25 miles from SF

Feb 24, 2017


California's 3rd State Capital 1853-54 in Benicia, California
Credit Thomas Wilmer

Benicia is situated along Carquinez Strait at the mouth of the Sacramento Delta, 35 miles from San Francisco. Benicia was established before the 1848 California Gold Rush. By 1853 it served briefly as California’s State Capital. Join Docent Mike Caplan at the State Historic Landmark; artist Mark Eanes at Arts Benicia, and Nancy Martinez, Executive Director of the Benicia Main Street Program.  

Benicia’s classic Greek Revival, sandstone and brick State Capital building, with fluted columns remains as California’s only surviving pre-Sacramento State House.

Benicia's California State Capital 1853-54
Credit Thomas Wilmer

Situated just off First Street in the heart of old town Benicia, the old Capital has been restored to original condition, including vintage desks, quill pens, spittoons, and whale oil lamps on the walls.

A California State Historic Landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Capital is a step back in time to the heyday of the California Gold Rush era.

Masterfully restored California State Capital 1853-54 in Benicia, California
Credit Jack Wolf

Come along and join State Park docent, Mike Caplan for a walking tour of the old capital. Benicia is located 35 miles from San Francisco between San Pablo Bay and Suisun Bay.

For further information about the historic Benicia State Capital State Historic Landmark and historic Benicia, log on to

Subsequent to the closure of the US military’s Benicia Arsenal back in 1964, a developer proposed to repurpose the former military installation as an artist live-work community. 

Today there are more than 50 artists who maintain live work studios in former military warehouses dubbed Arts Benicia.  

Mark Eanes (Right), Jeff Tover (Center), Larnie Fox (Left) meet at Eanes’ studio at the Benicia ArsenalCredit Jack WolfEdit | Remove

Mark Eanes is an instructor at the California College of Arts in Oakland, California, and an Arts Benicia Board Member. 

Larnie Fox, a former Executive Director of Arts Benicia, and Jeff Tover, an Arts Benicia Board Member and working artist, will join the conversation about the artists’ life at the Arsenal and Arts Benicia’s ongoing programs that include exhibitions, classes for adults, art experiences for kids, open studios and more.

Nancy Martinez, Executive Director of the Benicia Main Street Program shows off downtown Benicia, California
Credit Jack Wolf

Nancy Martinez, Executive Director of the Benicia Main Street Program, takes us on a walking tour down First Street.  

Benicia, California's historic train depot--the one time terminus of the transcontinental railroad today serves as the office for Benicia Main Street Program
Credit Thomas Wilmer

Former hangout of Jack London in downtown Benicia, California
Credit Thomas Wilmer
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