were a large number of schools established
in the first years of Benicia's history,
which was the source of the unusual nickname
of "Athens of California". The first two
were Blake's School for Boys and the Benicia
Young Ladies' Seminary, both founded in
1852. Blake's school briefly closed in the
financial crisis of 1854 to 1855 but was
purchased and reopened under the name of
Benicia Collegiate Institute by C.J. Flatt.
One of their most famous graduates was
Joseph McKenna who was a supreme court
justice. The school closed in 1867.
Young Ladies' Seminary operated from 1852 to
1886 under the direction of Miss Mary
Atkins. Between 1865 and 1871 it was owned
by Mr. and Mrs. C.T. Mills and was the first
setting of Mills College, the woman's
college now located in Oakland, California.