Within the center is a video display showing the geologic evolution of the mountain, mounted specimens of animal and plant life in a natural setting, and historical and cultural exhibits.
The building has an interesting history. Built from native stone in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the stone proved unsuitably porous, and so the interior was too damp to be useful for any permanent use. Only with the availability of modern polymeric sealing agents was it possible to render the building sufficiently waterproof for the housing of permanent exhibits.
The WPA was a federal government agency that employed architects, engineers, artists, crafts workers and laborers in the design, construction, and embelishment of public works during the Great Depression of the 1930s. This resulted in a number of public buildings, many with beautiful murals and embelishments which are with us to this day, as well as more mundane constructions such as small bridges and culverts. The creation of the WPA was a response by the Democratic Party administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt to both the real human needs of the unemployed and to the perceived threat to the industrial and political establishment of Socialist movements. The concept of the government as an employer of last resort has been lost in our modern times, but this may return as a consequence of the destruction of the welfare system combined with an unwillingness of many business leaders to promote larger societal values at any expense (however trivial) to either their company's profits or growth. Most likely, this will only occur should the politicaly active middle class once again become unemployed in large numbers due to large scale econmic disruptions.
The tower is a mount for an aircraft navigation beacon used in the 1930's and early '40's. See the Mount Diablo page for more information about the beacon atop the building and its connection with the beginings of World War Two.
Within the base of the tower is a survey monument that is the master reference point for all land surveys within most of Northern California and parts of Western Nevada.