Historical Buildings Walking Tour (Self Guided), Sacramento

The Gold Rush of the mid-1800s brought a large number of gold miners and prospects into the Sacramento area. The city expanded further when California State Legislature moved to Sacramento in 1854. Some of the city’s most historic structures seen today were built during that period to serve the flood of gold seekers and the growing government business. This self-guided tour takes you to see the most significant historic buildings in Sacramento.
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Historical Buildings Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Buildings Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Sacramento (See other walking tours in Sacramento)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: Dee
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Governor's Mansion State Historic Park
  • The Sacramento Masonic Temple
  • Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament
  • California State Capitol Museum
  • Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
  • Tower Bridge
  • Pony Express Terminal
  • Eagle Theatre
1
Governor's Mansion State Historic Park

1) Governor's Mansion State Historic Park

Governor's Mansion State Historic Park is the location of the historic Governor's Mansion of California, the former official home of the Governor of California. The mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the only governor's mansion in the United States not currently being used by a sitting Governor. The thirty-room, Second Empire, Italianate Victorian mansion was built in 1877 for local hardware merchant Albert Gallatin.

The State of California purchased the house in 1903 to serve as a governor's mansion. Many furnishings remain from former governors, including Pardee's 1902 Steinway piano, velvet chairs and sofas belonging to Governor Hiram Johnson, as well as Persian rugs bought by Mrs. Earl Warren. The structure has been renovated a number of times and just recently underwent exterior work to restore the mansion's fading paint as well as replace the aging windows with more efficient, modern ones.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
The Sacramento Masonic Temple

2) The Sacramento Masonic Temple

The Sacramento Masonic Temple was established between 1913 and 1918. It was considered a national historic place in 2001 because it is an exceptional building which represents an original design of its time. The magnificent rooms, oak doors, stained glass windows and cast bronze rails highlight the medieval style of the construction.
3
Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

3) Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento is a cathedral of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. It is the mother church and seat of Jaime Soto, the ordinary bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento. The Cathedral is located downtown at the intersection of 11th and K Streets. Currently, the cathedral is considered both a religious and civic landmark. It is the mother church of the diocese, which stretches from the southern edge of Sacramento County north to the Oregon border and serves approximately 975,000 Catholics. The diocese encompasses 99 churches in a 42,000 square mile region. The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is one of the largest cathedrals west of the Mississippi River.

With construction beginning in 1887, Sacramento’s Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is an example of the strength and history in Sacramento’s architecture. The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament combines Sacramento’s history with its modern day life.In 1886, Patrick Manogue was appointed as Sacramento’s first bishop. Inspired by churches he’d seen in European plazas, Manogue modeled the cathedral after L'Eglise de la Sainte-Trinitein Paris. Once completed, there was no cathedral equal in size west of the Mississippi River. The building is a modified basilica form approximately 200 feet long and 100 feet wide, and it seats 1400 people. The central bell tower rises 215 feet.

The architectural style of the church is Italian Renaissance on the exterior and Victorian on the interior. The church has been updated for modern use, but designers tried to keep the church in the original style. Over the years, with repairs, changes in color schemes and changes to the liturgy, the Church lost its stylistic unity.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
California State Capitol Museum

4) California State Capitol Museum (must see)

The capitol building houses the working bicameral state legislature and governor's offices. It was built in 1874, designed to be reminiscent of the US Capitol in Washington DC. The Senate chamber's red decorations refer to the British House of Lords, while the green tones in the Assembly chamber come from their House of Commons.

The basement and first floor of the state capitol building are dedicated as a museum. The tour office is located on the basement level, along with a small theater and gift shop. The first floor consists of several historic offices that have been restored, including those of the Secretary of State, Governor, and Treasurer. There are also rotating exhibits that highlight the history of the state. Forty acres of gardens surround the building, with over 200 types of trees and 155 memorials. The park takes up the space of ten city blocks.

Why You Should Visit

Besides seeing state governance's operating seat, the capitol also houses an extensive art collection that features hundreds of paintings, statues, murals, and antiques. Items displayed in the West Wing are from 1870 to 1910, known as the interpretive period. The East Annex features art from 1920 to 1950. There are also two noteworthy murals depicting historical events, one in the lower rotunda and one in the East Annex. Throughout the West Wing, you will see portraits of California's 38 governors.

The grounds of the building are worth strolling around. You'll see numerous monuments throughout Capitol Park, dedicated to important events and people from the state's history. Notable are the Camellia Grove, dedicated to the pioneers who settled the state and a gathering place in honor of California Indians.

Tips

During weekends, you must enter the museum through the N Street entrance. Free public tours depart hourly from 9 am to 4 pm from the tour office located on the basement level seven days a week.

If you're in town during the early spring, check out Camellia Day. More than 800 varieties of the plant grow in Capitol Park, with showy and colorful white, red, pink, and striped flowers.

Opening hours: Weekdays 8 am - 5 pm; Weekends 9 am - 5 pm;
5
Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park

5) Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park (must see)

Completed in 1857 and purchased a few years later by Leland Standford, this four-story house covers over 19,000 square feet. Standford was the co-founder and president of the Central Pacific Railroad, California's eighth governor, and Stanford University founder. The house has been under the care and management of the state parks since 1998. It is still used for official functions by the governor's and legislative offices and is kept open for public tours.

The original owner of the house was local merchant Shelton C. Fogus. He had the home constructed in a distinctive Renaissance Revival architecture style. In 1861, just before he was elected governor, Stanford purchased the home for $8,000. He used the mansion as his executive office and home. The next two governors did the same. Stanford expanded and modified the home greatly to suit his needs and have it raised above flood level.

The home was donated to the Roman Catholic Diocese by Jane Stanford after her husband and son's deaths. It was used as an orphanage for decades before becoming restored to its present showpiece condition.

The mansion was designated a California historic landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

Tips

Keep in mind that the daily tours of the mansion can be affected by the official functions and events held there. Before heading over, be sure to double-check that tours are available on your planned day.

Enter through the visitor's center on the back of the property. Free guided tours depart hourly from there.
6
Tower Bridge

6) Tower Bridge

Coming into the city via US Highway 40, it's hard to miss the eye-catching and dramatic Tower Bridge. The vertical lift bridge was opened for traffic in 1935. It replaced the original M Street Bridge, which at only 25 years old was already causing concerns with traffic congestion. The possibility of war and the need for moving supplies from west to east across the US was a significant factor in building the bridge. The original design featured two single-land roadways on either side of central railroad tracks, but the train tracks were removed in the early 1960s.

The 209-foot long lift section of the bridge weighs around five million pounds. Still, the clever use of perfectly balanced counterweights means that two relatively small electric motors can operate the bridge. When the bridge is up, it provides 100 feet of vertical clearance for vessels sailing up the Sacramento River. The towers are 160 feet tall and extend 50 feet below the water surface and into the river bed to provide structural support for the bridge's colossal weight.

The bridge's paint scheme has been changed several times over the years. The present gold color, applied in 2002, was chosen by a local vote.
7
Pony Express Terminal

7) Pony Express Terminal

The Pony Express Terminal, also known as the B. F. Hastings Bank Building, is a historic commercial building at 1000 2nd Street in Sacramento, California. Built in 1852, it was the western endpoint of the Pony Express from 1860 to 1861, the period of the service's operation. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966.

It is a two-story brick structure, presenting four bays to J Street and nine to 2nd Street. A single-story canopy extends across the sidewalk in front of both facades, supported by simple square posts. A metal staircase rises in the middle of the 2nd Street facade to an entrance on the second floor.

The building is now home to a museum about the history of Wells Fargo in Sacramento. This location features a re-created 19th-century Wells Fargo Express Company office, artifacts of company history and the California Gold Rush era, and exhibits about the company's role in California Gold Rush commerce. The other Wells Fargo History Museum in Sacramento is located in the Wells Fargo Center.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Eagle Theatre

8) Eagle Theatre

The Eagle Theatre in Gold Rush-era Sacramento was the first permanent theatre to be built in the state of California. Established in 1849 this relatively small structure was originally wood-framed and canvas-covered with a tin roof and a packed earth floor. The theatre was flooded on Jan 4, 1850.

Located at 925 Front Street, it was one of the earliest structures in the new city. It featured many different types of entertainment for a rough crowd of wild west pioneers and gold miners from the small but rapidly growing area. Tickets to the theater could be obtained at a nearby saloon for two dollars and three dollars, most likely the Round Tent Saloon then located just to the south of the theatre.

Today the theatre is owned by California Department of Parks and Recreation and is administered by the California State Railroad Museum as part of the Old Sacramento State Historic Park.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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