Benicia History

Majestic Theater

by Beverly Phelan The Majestic Theatre in Downtown Benicia opened with great fanfare on February 23, 1920.  By 7:30 PM – opening time – there were more than 1200 people waiting to be admitted, with only half of the people fortunate enough to get in at the first show!...

The Mizners – A Very Interesting Family!

The Mizner Family was one of Benicia's most interesting pioneer families. They arrived in California at the founding of Benicia in the 1840's. They built a house and kept a small farm on what is now East L St. near First St. (where the Benicia Public Library is...

1860’s, 1870’s, 1880’s & 1890’s

The original land grants gifted to General Vallejo in 1843, incorporating much of Solano and Sonoma County, were ultimately invalidated in the 1860's. This was due in part due to their sheer size as well as the fact that they were granted by the Mexican Governor,...

The Pony Express

Benicia was not on the regular Pony Express Route, but when the riders' missed their steamer connection to San Francisco from Sacramento, they took the alternative route through Solano County.  This happened a total of 19 times in the 19 month history of the Pony...

The City of Benicia Is Born 1847

In June of 1846, Robert Semple, a young dentist and journalist from Kentucky was escorting Mexican General Mariano C. Vallejo to Sutter's Fort in Sacramento.  It was then that he saw the Strait of Carquinez for the first time. Most of the land north of the strait was...

Commander McAllister

 Julian McAllister was the commanding officer of the arsenal from 1860 to 1886 and built a great deal of the buildings at the arsenal at that time.  He was the son of a prominent Savannah, Georgia family, the brother of New York society leader Ward McAllister and Hall...

The Clocktower 1859

When the new arsenal commander, Franklin D. Callender took over in 1856, he requested appropriations to be set aside for a new storehouse.  His correspondence to the ordnance office in Washington show his interest in the aesthetic as well as functional aspects of the...

The Powder Magazines 1855

There were two powder magazines constructed by Commander Stone, one on the extreme north of the property and one shown in the photo which is directly behind the storehouses which now hold the Museum.  The first was begun in 1855 and the second in 1857 and were...

The Army Arrives 1849

In 1849, the Army's newly appointed commander of the Pacific, General Persifer F. Smith moved his headquarters to land which was donated to the government by Semple and Larkin at his request.  Three installations were established, each under a different section of the...