San Jose

California's First State Capitol

Santa Clara County Courthouse

The first California State Legislature met on this site in 1849. Strenuous lobbying by Charles White and James F. Reed at the Constitutional Convention in Monterey had persuaded the delegates to locate the Capital in San Jose. Because city residents saw the acquisition of the Capital as crucial to their community's future, the town council agreed to provide a suitable building to house the state government. They purchased two-storied adobe hotel under construction on this site.

San Jose's tenure as State Capital was, however, brief. While the town made every effort to accommodate the Legislature, initial Senate sessions had to be held in a private residence until the statehouse could be readied. Hotel facilities were inadequate. An unusually wet winter caused flooding, making downtown streets impassable. The behavior of the legislators themselves earned the 1849 session the title "The legislature of One Thousand Drinks." This inauspicious start, and the Capital for themselves, led to the legislators' decision to move to Vallejo following their second and final meeting in San Jose in 1851.

The vacated building housed the Santa Clara County Courthouse until its destruction by fire in 1853.


Tom Blackman's Walking Tour of San Jose

CA History B