State Capitol Construction, Part III
After its formation in 1856, the Board of State Capitol Commissioners immediately solicited architectural designs for the proposed state capitol building. On August 13, 1856, the commissioners accepted the architectural plans of Reuben Clark, an architect from San Francisco. Unfortunately, construction lasted little more than a week before financial difficulties halted the project. When the commission met again in 1860, they accepted the plans of a different architect, M.F. Butler, but appointed Reuben Clark to the post of Supervising Architect. Clark served in this capacity for five years.
In 1865, approximately a month after the assassination of President Lincoln, the Union League sent a report to the Board of State Capitol Commissioners concerning Clark’s loyalty to the Union. The Union League alleged that Clark made inflammatory statements to state capitol employees regarding Lincoln’s election to a second term in 1864. The League also charged that Clark “knowingly employed and retained outspoken secessionists as workmen on the aforesaid State Capitol building”.
A few months after the Union League made its accusations of disloyalty, Clark requested a leave of absence because of an ongoing illness. When he did not return by January 1, 1866, the commission appointed a new architect to fill Clark’s vacated position. On February 5th of that year, Reuben Clark was committed to the Stockton State Hospital for “violent burst[s] of passion” that threatened his family, caused by “too close attention to the building of the State Capitol.” Clark died of “general paralysis” on July 4, 1866. The commission denied his final request to be buried on the grounds of the state capitol, and he was laid to rest in the Masonic Cemetery in San Francisco.