State Architect Alfred Eichler's Historic Capitol Annex


Victoria Kastner
Architectural Historian
Hearst Castle’s Official Historian, 1996-2018

Alfred Eichler had to do a great deal on his own because at that time there weren’t many educational facilities for the deaf. And he studied architecture in New York and really had to struggle. He became California’s State Architect in the middle of the 1920s. We know him for one of his brilliant buildings which is Tower Bridge which he designed in 1934.

Sacramento’s beautiful bridge voted ‘The Most Beautiful Lift Bridge in the World’ soon after it was built. He built that early in his career. And then he built this at the end of his career.

This beautiful East Annex he constructed in 1952 and it’s meant to be a pendant piece. It joins visually, a visual corridor between his great Tower Bridge and our great State Capitol. He was sensitive in the way he planned it so that it blended in and augmented the building. But it used more modern technology, fabulous reliefs in aluminum, door frames of aluminum, rare woods, marvelous marbles.

And he built it exceedingly well.

There’s nothing that this building needs except love and care to allow it to be preserved and flourished as an important part of California history. What Mr. Eichler did in 1952 was build this building in a mid-century modern style, but in a style that harkened back to the 1930s and the Tower Bridge.

It’s a style called Streamline Moderne. And so, it’s very rare to have a building in our state capital that is so distinguished architecturally and yet under such peril at a time when the rest of the state of California is looking for good mid-century modern buildings to celebrate and save.

It is the height of wastefulness to demolish a building like this. But more than that, it is the destruction of our own history, beautiful architecture that’s meant to blend in.

It’s sensitive. It’s part of the 20th century. It links us to the 19th century. And in the 21st century, we should not be thinking of tearing it down.