The Texas State Capitol was designed by architect Elijah Myers whose work included the designs used in the creation of the Michigan and Colorado capitol buildings. The Texas capitol building was completed in 1888 and placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. In 1986, it was designated a National Historic Landmark for its significant contribution to American history.
The Texas State Capitol Building in downtown Austin is often recognized as one of the nation’s most beautiful state capitol buildings. The
Capitol Building is located at Capitol Square which was originally selected as
the site of the Capitol of the Republic of Texas. It was completed in 1853. However, the Greek
Revival structure burned in late 1881 leaving the state of Texas without a fitting
seat of government. Fortunately, The Capitol Board, who were in the building at
the time of the fire, already had plans for a new structure.
plans began in January 1882. To mark the start a groundbreaking ceremony was
held a month later. Foundation work on the building began in March 1885. The
ceremonious environment continued over the years until the completion December
8, 1888. E.E. Myers, known for his work on the Michigan and Colorado Capitols,
was selected to design the new building. Contractors were offered an
interesting trade in exchange for their expertise-- three million acres in the
Texas Panhandle deeded to them when the work was finished.. From the foundation
there gradually rose a visual marvel. The exterior was supposed to be limestone
originally, but the stone that was quarried streaked when exposed to air. Some
alternately proposed granite, a harder, more expensive stone. The debate
stunted the construction process for almost two years. But, a decision, after
long discussions, was finally reached. Builders settled on “Sunset Red” granite
graciously donated by its owners in what is now Marble Falls, Texas.
structure of the walls and the dome were beginning to take shape by mid-1887.
When the dome was completed, the Goddess of Liberty statue was placed atop it.
The Capitol measured more than 310 feet high, with 392 rooms, 924 windows, and
404 door. The labor was daunting. It took more than 1,000 people, including
engineers, contractors, laborers, and craftsmen seven years to build at a cost
of $3,744,600, which was a vast fortune for the time. The intricate structure
is the largest of all state capitol buildings, and it is the second largest in
total size behind only the Federal Capitol in Washington D.C. As everything
always must be “bigger in Texas,” The Texas state Capitol Building actually surpasses
the National Capitol in height, rising seven feet higher.
April 21, 1888, San Jacinto Day, the Capitol formally opened to the public. The
next month was full of celebrations and festivities. Celebrants marked the
dedication and were organized to celebrate the “splendor that was befitting the
glory of Texas and the grandeur of that building.” Patriotic displays were
featured throughout the night. Crowds lined Congress Avenue and filled the
Capitol grounds to watch parades and ceremonies.
Today, the building sits in the heart of Austin. Tourists flock to the site to visit and
explore the history of each politician and political act made in the building. It
is a fitting emblem of a state that once declared its total independence from
the Union … where history continues to be made.