Historic Preservation in Benicia

Celebrate Historic Preservation Month in May

The Preservation Month theme is “People Saving Places” to shine the spotlight on everyone doing the work of saving places—in big ways and small. Access resources from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to help you celebrate!


Historic Preservation is an approach to conserving structures and sites that represent a physical connection with people and events from our past. In addition to serving as visible reminders of our historical and cultural heritage, historic buildings contribute to Benicia’s unique character identity. This uniqueness strengthens the local economy by preserving property values, attracting tourists and encouraging investment in Benicia.

Much of Benicia’s history was influenced by its location along the Carquinez Strait, where the rivers of the Central Valley flow into the San Francisco Bay. This location allowed the City to be shaped by the transcontinental railway and the international shipping trade. Benicia’s main historic industries—tanneries, canneries, and shipyards— were located right along the waterfront. Ultimately, the waterfront and transportation activity molded Benicia’s social, commercial, and military history.

The City of Benicia values its local history and is home to two historic districts: the Downtown Historic District and Arsenal Historic District.  The local recognition of Benicia’s place in State and National history began over fifty years ago with the establishment of a downtown historic preservation district in 1969, and is now embodied in various aspects of the City’s government and culture. In addition to the Benicia General Plan, the City has adopted various documents to inform and guide the community in protection of our historic resources:


A note regarding the California Historic Building CodeThe intent of the historic code is to save California’s architectural heritage by recognizing the unique construction problems inherent in historical buildings and by providing a code to deal with these problems. The California Historic Building Code (CHBC) does not recognize emergency repairs outside of the authority having jurisdictions direction (City of Benicia). A written declaration of an imminent danger from the City of Benicia is required in all cases. The property owner is required by code to provide temporary safeguards until proper permitting and approval is be obtained. 

2022 CHBC Imminent Threat. Any condition within or effecting a qualified historical building or property which, in the opinion of the authority having jurisdiction (City of Benicia) would qualify a building or property as dangerous to the extent that the life, health, property or safety of the public, its occupants or those performing necessary repair, stabilization or shoring work are in immediate peril due to conditions affecting the building or property. Potential hazards to persons using, or improvements within, the right-of-way may not be construed to be “imminent threats” solely for that reason if the hazard can be mitigated by shoring, stabilization, barricades or temporary fences.

Please review the links below to learn more about the City's historic preservation program.