The Museum Complex
The Museum Complex consists of four original 1850’s Benicia Arsenal Buildings. All of the buildings are built of native Californian sandstone quarried near the Museum site. The rustic, austere style set a precedent that was utilized in most of the Benicia Arsenal buildings built in the 19th Century. The Arsenal is one of only three locations where native stone was used for US military installations. The other two are Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and Ft. Tejon, California near the north end of the Grapevine.
Each of the Museum buildings have a keystone decoration of a cannon ball surmounted by a flame. This is the symbol of the US Army Ordnance Depot.
|Building #7, the Silas Casey building, was originally a storehouse erected for the Arsenal in 1853. Now it houses our Industrial Exhibit, the Archives offices, and the Education Department.
It is also the main repository for our collection of artifacts. The curatorial department, made of volunteers and our student intern, are working hard to archive, catalog, and create digital records of our growing collection.
|Building #8, erected in 1855, was originally the Engine House. This building later served as a guardhouse, an Army Officer’s office, a chapel, a cartridge bag shop, and an artist’s studio. Currently it is the Museum Office.|
|Building #9, build in 1854, was also one of the original storehouses for the Arsenal. It now houses the main Museum gallery. The Museum features exhibits ranging from the Native Californians of Solano County, to the founding of California, to the Gold Rush, to current-day arts in Benicia.
The lower level of Building #9 is known as Captain Charles P. Stone Hall. The Museum hosts many events in the hall each year; including gallery openings, lectures, and concerts. The hall can also be rented for private events. See our Rentals page for details.
|Building #10, The Powder Magazine, is a unique adventure. Built in 1857 from native Benicia sandstone by French and Italian stonemasons, this is one of the few remaining examples of the stonemasons’ art in California, from the vaulted ceilings to the carved capitals on the pillars. The Museum has restored this building and installed a display of Benicia Arsenal artifacts. At the present time, the Powder Magazine is open to visitors by appointment only.|
|Spenger Memorial Garden, is located behind Building #9 and was dedicated in 2008 to the memory of Catherine and Paul Spenger. The garden is a charming space for a picnic after a Museum tour and is available to rent for private events. See our Rentals page for details.|