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California, Missouri
City of California
California City Hall
California City Hall
Official seal of California, Missouri
The Country Ham Capital of the World, Twin City, Heart of Moniteau County, Cali
Small enough to know you, large enough to serve you.
Location of California, Missouri
Location of California, Missouri
Country United States
State Missouri
County Moniteau
Incorporated 1848
 • Type Mayor/board of aldermen
 • Total 3.88 sq mi (10.05 km2)
 • Land 3.87 sq mi (10.01 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.04 km2)
892 ft (272 m)
 • Total 4,278
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,142.56/sq mi (441.10/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
65018, 65042
Area code(s) 573
FIPS code 29-10468
Website City of California
Finke Opera House 042017
Finke Opera House as it appeared in 2017

California is a city in and the county seat of Moniteau County, Missouri, United States. The 2010 census has the population at 4,278. California is the third largest city in the Jefferson City, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area, as well as the largest city in Moniteau County.


California is located at 38°37′48″N 92°34′6″W / 38.63000°N 92.56833°W / 38.63000; -92.56833 (38.630093, -92.568273). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.36 square miles (8.70 km2), of which, 3.35 square miles (8.68 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,427
1890 1,772 24.2%
1900 2,181 23.1%
1910 2,154 −1.2%
1920 2,218 3.0%
1930 2,384 7.5%
1940 2,525 5.9%
1950 2,627 4.0%
1960 2,788 6.1%
1970 3,105 11.4%
1980 3,381 8.9%
1990 3,465 2.5%
2000 4,005 15.6%
2010 4,278 6.8%
2019 (est.) 4,416 3.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 4,278 people, 1,727 households, and 1,096 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,277.0 inhabitants per square mile (493.1/km2). There were 1,909 housing units at an average density of 569.9 per square mile (220.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.3% White, 0.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 5.7% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.4% of the population.

There were 1,727 households, of which 33.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.5% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.05.

The median age in the city was 36.6 years. 26.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.1% were from 25 to 44; 21.7% were from 45 to 64; and 17.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.8% male and 53.2% female.


The City of California was established in 1834. The seat of justice of Moniteau County was originally known as Boonesborough. When Moniteau County was organized in 1845, it was decided that Boonsborough would become the county seat. Because the county court was unwilling to pay for land in Boonsborough, a site was selected one-mile (1.6 km) west and this would become the new county seat. In 1846, the Post Office required a new name to be selected for Boonsborough since there was already a Boonsborough in Missouri. The city was renamed California on January 25, 1847 for the territory on the West Coast that was just then drawing attention due to progress of the overland railroad. That same year, a courthouse was erected on the square.

California was incorporated in 1848 and elected its first city officials in 1858, ten years later.

The Weekly California News printed its first edition on September 18, 1858 and has since been Moniteau County's oldest established business still in operation. Today it is known as the California Democrat.

By the end of the Civil War, California's population was around 1,000. The city had 10 dry goods stores, 2 drug stores, a tobacco factory, a large steam flouring mill and carding machine, a high school, a printing office, and a bank.

In 1867, money was appropriated for a new courthouse, which was completed in 1868 and is still in use today.

Historical places of interest

In addition to the Finke Opera House, Gray-Wood Buildings, and Moniteau County Courthouse listed below, the Old Barnhill Building and Old California City Hall and Fire Station are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cultural Heritage Center

Cultural Heritage Center

Located at 201 North High Street in downtown California, this building was the old Post Office. Today, it houses the Moniteau County Historical Society, museum, information center, gift shop, and genealogy library.

Eitzen Mansion

Eitzen Mansion

Built in 1898 by Charles A. Eitzen, this mansion has 19 rooms and 9 fireplaces and includes the original slate roof. The carriage house and stable, with a room for the coachman, are still standing on the property, which takes up an entire city block. The home remained in the Eitzen family until 1952. Since then, it has been used as a nursing home, restaurant, and bed and breakfast successively. Through all of those changes, remarkably, the original fireplaces, woodwork, and beautiful main staircase with its ornate woodwork remained intact. Today, the mansion is a private residence.

Finke Opera House/Ritz Theatre

Located at 312 North High Street in downtown California, the Finke Opera House/theatre was built in 1885. The building was designed by Jerome Bibb “J.B.” Legg, a well-known St. Louis architect. Legg was also responsible for designing many Missouri courthouses, opera houses, theaters, churches, schools and public buildings and remodeled the Missouri State Capitol in 1887. The theater was named to the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in the area of entertainment and recreation in 2004.

The two-story brick building was California’s only opera house and theater and therefore was the main entertainment center for the community. From 1885-1897, it was known as the California Opera House and then the Finke Opera House from 1897-1922. While it was the opera house, the building was home to stage shows, plays, musical and school performances. Blind Boone played the piano at the opera house in 1893. Cole Younger, an associate of Jesse James, lectured at the opera house in 1909. From 1922-1937, it was known as Finke Theater and featured vaudeville and motion pictures. In 1937, it was renovated from its Victorian style to an art deco style and became known as the Ritz Theatre, from 1937-1978. It has been known as the Finke Theater since the theater opened for the 2009-10 season on September 26, 2009.

The opera house/theatre was recently renovated by California Progress, Inc., along with the adjacent Finke Building, to save this historical landmark.

Gray-Wood Buildings, Downtown California, MO

Gray-Wood Buildings

Located at 401-407 North High Street in downtown California, the Gray-Wood Buildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 for their architectural significance. Built in the late 1800s, the buildings house several businesses today.

Moniteau County Courthouse

Moniteau County Courthouse

Built in 1867, the Moniteau County Courthouse is one of the oldest courthouses in Missouri. The semicircular front portico and the square mounted abaci on top of the brick columns resemble those of former State Capitol built in 1840. The courthouse square has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1970. The first floor of the courthouse features several museum displays.

Rice House

This mansion was built in 1867 by Niles Rice. The Victorian home has 12-foot (3.7 m) ceilings, six-foot hallways, and 36 narrow seven-foot windows. It is currently a private residence.

Wood Place Public Library

Located in the historic Ehrhardt Building, this building was constructed in 1864 and was home to the J. G. Ehrhardt Mercantile Company. The building was purchased by California Progress, Inc. in 1995 and restored to preserve a historical landmark in the community. The library moved into the building in August 1998.

Fine arts

Loran Creech, a nationally renowned watercolorist and Best of Missouri Hands juried artist, calls California home. His historic two-story home in California serves as his gallery and guests are welcome. Creech's work has been featured in galleries all across the U.S.

The Finke Theatre hosts regular performances throughout the year.

The Cultural Heritage Center houses several wall murals depicting area history. California has a Community Band, which performs at several events around the community.

There is an art studio in downtown California with art classes and the California Parks and Recreation Department offers an art camp in the summer.

Parks and recreation

The city of California maintains four parks, the California Sports Complex, and an indoor olympic-size swimming pool. The swimming pool was acquired from the California R-1 Public School District in 2007.

Proctor Park

Proctor Park is the largest park in California. This park features a stocked fishing lake, walking trails, tennis courts, frisbee golf course, sand volleyball court, shelter houses and playgrounds.

City Park

City Park is the oldest park in California. It features basketball and tennis courts and a playground.

Railroad Park

Railroad Park is located just north of the City Hall along the Union Pacific Railroad. This park is located where the railroad depot was once located. The open-air shelter is a replica of the old depot.

Smith-Burke Park

Smith-Burke Park, located just west of the City Hall, stands where the old Union Pacific Railroad Hotel once stood.

California Sports Complex

The California Sports Complex features four lighted baseball/softball fields, a soccer field and sand volleyball court.

California Municipal Pool

The California Municipal Pool is an indoor olympic-sized swimming pool with an outdoor splash deck.


California is also home to a semi-private nine-hole golf course, Double X Speedway (featuring street stocks, winged sprints, and hobby stocks races May–September), and the California Shooter's Club (which has shotgun and archery ranges).

California boasts a strong recreation program, serving children in the California area year-round. Also located in California are an airport (used for recreational flying), a 10-lane bowling alley, a roller rink, a dance studio, and some gyms.


California Balloon Invitational - 2011
2011 California Balloon Invitational

In 2011, the Moniteau County Fair celebrated its 145th anniversary. The Fair began in 1866 and is believed to be the oldest continuous fair west of the Mississippi River. Events at the fair include the tractor pull, demolition derby, Tuff Truck competition, figure 8 race, horse show, battle of the bands, Miss Moniteau County Queen contest, baby show, and rodeo. This annual event is held during the first full week of August at the Moniteau County Fairgrounds. Referenced in Missouri Roadsides: The Traveler's Companion by Bill Earngey.

The Ozark Ham & Turkey festival, held annually on the third Saturday in September, is a one-day festival designed to showcase two of the major industries in both California and Moniteau County. Billed as having "something for everyone", this festival has activities throughout town.

A Cinco de Mayo Festival is held in downtown on the first Saturday of May. It features, food, crafts, entertainment and more. It celebrates California's large Hispanic population.

A Farmer's Market is held every Friday afternoon/evening from April to October near Smith-Burke Park.

The California Balloon Invitational is a hot air balloon race in California held on the third Saturday of July. Approximately 20 hot air ballons participate in a hare and hounds hot air balloon race.

Christmas California Style is held the first Friday and Saturday of December. Events include business open houses, a lighted Christmas parade, and more.


California R-1 School District operates three schools in California and serves 1,357 students.

  • California Elementary School, located at 101 South Owen Street, serves 586 students in Kindergarten through fifth grades.
  • California Middle School, located at 211 South Owen Street, serves 298 students in sixth through eighth grades.
  • California High School, located at 1501 West Buchanan Street, serves 472 students in ninth through twelfth grades.

The California R-1 School District is unique in that swimming is included in the K-5 curriculum. It is also a part of the physical education courses in the middle and high schools. Swimming has been a part of the curriculum since the school district constructed an indoor olympic-size swimming pool in 1976. In December 2007, due to funding cuts for public schools, the city of California took over control of the swimming pool. In an agreement worked out between the city and the school district, the school will continue to use the pool during the school year for the students of the California R-1 School District.

Aurora Montessori School serves pre-K and Kindergarten students.

The Diocese of Jefferson City operated a catholic school, Annunciation School, in California until the school was destroyed by fire in 1982.

There are seven post-secondary institutions located within 45 miles (72 km) of California.



California is served by U.S. Route 50 and Missouri Route 87.


Missouri River Runner runs through California but they don't make stops in California.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: California (Misuri) para niños

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