Wikipedia:GLAM/Balboa Park/To-do/California Building (Balboa Park)

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California Building
California Building in 2008
GLAM/Balboa Park/To-do/California Building (Balboa Park) is located in California
GLAM/Balboa Park/To-do/California Building (Balboa Park)
Location 1350 El Prado, San Diego, California
Coordinates 32°43′53.5044″N 117°09′8.481″W / 32.731529000°N 117.15235583°W / 32.731529000; -117.15235583Coordinates: 32°43′53.5044″N 117°09′8.481″W / 32.731529000°N 117.15235583°W / 32.731529000; -117.15235583
Built 1915
Architect Bertram G. Goodhue
Architectural style Spanish-Colonial Revival
NRHP Reference # [1]

The California Building, located in San Diego, California, is a prominent building and tower in Balboa Park constructed for the 1915 Panama–California Exposition. Part of the California Quadrangle, it was designed by Bertram G. Goodhue in the Spanish-Colonial architectural style. The building is currently used for housing the San Diego Museum of Man.


In preparation for the 1915 Panama–California Exposition, several groups raised funds to prepare Balboa Park. California paid $500,000 for the development of a building and their exhibits for the exposition.[2]


The building was designed by Bertram G. Goodhue and Carleton Winslow.[2] The building's architectural style is based on Spanish Colonial Revival. Designed as part of the California Quadrangle, the several buildings were developed around a central square.[2] West of the building is the Cabrillo Bridge. The tower portion of the building rises 200 feet (60.96 m).[3] The tower is comprised of three tiers that shift from a quadrangle, octagon, and then a circle.[3] The carillon, coupled with loudspeakers contained within the tower, play Westminster chimes every 15 minutes.[3] The lower portion of the building is topped by a large dome coupled with several smaller domes. The dome's design looked to the dome at the Church of Santa Prisca and San Sebastián in Taxco, Mexico.[4] Several inscriptions are included at the base of the dome, including a Latin translation of Deuteronomy 8:8 and California's state motto.[4]

The facade of the building is covered with elaborate statues of several prominent people in California, England, Mexico, and Spain. These include Junípero Serra, Philip III of Spain, Sebastián Vizcaíno, George Vancouver, Luís Jayme, Carlos III of Spain, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, Gaspar de Portolà, and Antonio de la Ascención.[5][6]


The California Building was developed for the 1915 expo and, unlike many of the other expo buildings, it was not designed to be temporary. In 1913, the San Diego Union called the building "...second in beauty only to the State Capital in Sacramento."[7] When the expo ended in 1916, the building was given to the San Diego Museum. Although California owned the building, it was turned over to the San Diego government in 1926.[8] In 1941, during World War II, the building was temporarily used as a hospital ward.[9]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c Christman (1985), p. 57
  3. ^ a b c Hudson (2000), p. 25
  4. ^ a b Hudson (2000), p. 24
  5. ^ Christman (1985), p. 58
  6. ^ Hudson (2000), p. 23
  7. ^ Hudson (2000), p. 22
  8. ^ Christman (1985), p. 60
  9. ^ Linder, Bruce (2001). San Diego's Navy. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. p. 136. ISBN 1-55750-531-4. 
  • Christman, Florence (1985). The Romance of Balboa Park (4th ed.). San Diego: San Diego Historical Society. ISBN 0-91874-003-7. 
  • Hudson, Andrew (2000). The Magic of Balboa Park (1st ed.). La Jolla: PhotoSecrets Publishing. ISBN 0-96530-879-0. 
  • Showley, Roger M. (2000). San Diego: Perfecting Paradise. Heritage Media Corp. ISBN 1-88648-324-8. 

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