Benicia Government Offices

Benicia Government Offices


Benicia, the jewel of Solano County, was named in 1847 after Mexican General Mariano Vallejo sold the land to Robert Semple & Thomas Larkin from his vast grant for land. General Vallejo asked his wife Francisca Benicia to name the town. The first word of gold discovered at Sutter’s Mill is said to have been leaked at a Benicia Tavern thus beginning the Gold Rush. On the way to the Sierras Benicia was a way station.

Historic Benicia, established in 1849, was the third town to be incorporated in the State in 1851. In 1853 it became the state ‘s third capital. Benicia rushed to erect the red brick capitol after it was learned that the Legislature was unhappy with muddy San Jose. The building was completed in just 4 months, by making the bricks on site. Only 13 short months Benicia was the State Capitol until Governor John Bigler moved the capital to his hometown of Sacramento. The house is now a State Park & an open tour historic landmark.

Benicia was home to a military arsenal, providing arms to U.S. forces in conflicts and wars beginning in 1849. It is important to note that, after a failed effort to integrate the dromedaries into the army as pack animals, the Arsenal kept camels at the Camel Barns (now a museum) The fact that Ulysses S. Grant was assigned to this position during his earlier military service is also significant. The Benicia Arsenal was decommissioned in 1960, and the area now houses a vibrant industrial park and numerous craftsmen and artisans.

As a waterfront city, Benicia was a great shipbuilding hub until well into the 20th century, right after World War I, and home to flourishing waterfront industries (canneries and tanneries).

Commanding Officer’s Quarters

Julian McAllister, commander of the installation between 1860 and 1885, designed the Benicia Arsenal Commanding Officer’s Quarters in 1860. The house is situated on a slope, west of the original storage building of the ordinance (Clock Tower). According to contemporary sources McAllister was involved in Benicia’s social life. Based on the day’s social standards, and considering that McAllister was a leading resident, his residence undoubtedly acted as a neighborhood focal point. The Commanding Officers’ Quarters on any military post have traditionally been at the top of the residential hierarchy. They were the most detailed and elaborately built. Not only did they signify rank but they were intended as hospitality places. It’s easy to imagine the house hosting military dress balls, afternoon teas, lavish meals, community leaders meetings, holiday parties, or staff officer gatherings. In the later years of McAllister ‘s order, both indoors and outdoors the house was altered without altering its primary use as a residence. By the turn of the 20th century, Colonel James Walker Benet was in charge of the Arsenal from 1905 to 1911.

He and his family lived in the house, including his young son Steven Vincent Benet who later became famous for his writings. The residence served a succession of commanding officers and their families in the years that followed while retaining (to varying degrees) its reputation as a social center. In 1964, the US closed the Benicia Armory. Army and ownership were moved to Benicia County.

The City rented the Quarters of the Commanding Officer to a restaurant operator in the 1970s. For a number of years, the house served as a common eating establishment and restaurant, until it was closed in 1981. The north wing ground floor experienced a kitchen fire during this time as a restaurant. The house was locked for more than twenty years and was unused. This landmark building was recently renovated; a $3 million project was completed in May 2009 to repair and retrofit the building seismically.

The following important government offices is located near the following facilities in Benicia, California:

  • Benicia Police Department
  • Benicia Fire Department
  • CHP Golden Gate Division
  • City of Benicia – Parks & Community Services
  • US Transportation Department
  • Benicia Water Billing & Service
  • Benicia City Clerk

And of course, if you are in need of the best electrician in Benicia and Fairfield, stop by the headquarters on Frontline Electrical Services on Park Rd in Benicia today!

Ready for Your Home Energy Audit?


At Frontline Electrical Services we love helping our customers feel safe and secure in their homes. To have your home’s wiring checked or to receive your free home energy consult and you are in the Benicia, Walnut Creek or  Fairfield, California or surrounding areas, contact us today at 800-945-0268 (here is a map to our location) and we’ll have one of our certified specialist analyze your electricity usage and give you the information you need to make sure your home is the most energy-efficient it can be!