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State Capitol of Texas

Built: 1888
Designed by: Elijah E. Myers
Type: Government Building
Maximum Height: 311 feet / 95 meters
Austin, United States
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M assive doesn't begin to describe just how big this is. This is the largest state capitol in the United States, and the fifth tallest. Even so, it's only half as large as its original plan. Like most other state capitols in the U.S., this one is based on the capitol in Washington, DC, though Texans like to boast that it is seven feet taller -- 311 feet to the star in the statue's left hand. The basement and foundation are of limestone, the rest in pink granite -- 15,000 rail cars full. The cornerstone weighs six tons. When it opened, it was the seventh largest building in the world. On the floor of the rotunda are images in marble of the Lone Star, the symbol of Texas, surrounded by symbols of six of the nine countries that have governed the state (France, Spain, Mexico, The Republic of Texas, The Confederate States of America, and The United States.)
The capitol burned in 1983, and was the subject of a huge renovation project in 1990. The former General Land Office building has now been completely taken over as a visitor's center and there are films about the construction of the capitol and its renovation. Part of that renovation included replacing the original zinc statue of the Goddess of Liberty holding a lone star at the top of the dome with one made from aluminum. Another new addition is an underground parking garage and a 615,000 square-foot wing of government offices underground. The only evidence of their existence is an atrium poking out of the gardens. It is referred to as the "shark tank" because of the lawyers who mill about under the glass -- it's the only place in the underground complex their mobile phones will work.

    Trivia from the State of Texas web page:
  • E.E. Myers was paid $1,700 for the initial designs of the Texas Capitol. Myers also designed the Michigan and Colorado capitols.
  • The Capitol cornerstone weighed 12,000 pounds and was laid on March 2, 1885, the 49th anniversary of Texas independence. A zinc box placed inside the cornerstone contains a stone from the older limestone Capitol, currency of the Republic of Texas and of the Confederate States of America, an Austin city directory, an 1862 meal ticket worth 25 cents and other objects.
  • The original contractor, Mattheas Schnell of Chicago, was paid with 3,000,000 acres of land.
  • The $250,000.00 capitol dome exterior was made from iron in Belgium.
  • The roof is covered with 85,000 square feet of copper, which reportedly leaked after a storm the day the empty building was dedicated.
  • E.E. Myers is the same architect who designed the Michigan and Colorado State Capitols.
  • The cornerstone was laid, March 2, 1885.
  • The capitol covers three acres, with 18 acres of floor space.
  • Seventh largest building in the world at the time of completion.
  • When completed in 1888, the building had 392 rooms, 18 vaults, 924 windows, and 404 doors.
  • The capitol is 566 feet long, 288 feet wide.
  • The floors are hand blocked clay tile, glass and wood.
  • This area was haunted long before the capitol was built. It is said that the ghosts of an indian scout and his lover have been seen on the grounds.
  • The ghost of a person who reportedly committed suicide at the capitol in the 1980's is sometimes seen in the rotunda.
  • 4 October, 2002 - A judge rules that a stone tablet engraved with the Ten Commandments can remain on the grounds of the capitol. A homeless man sued saying that it violated the Constitutional separation of church and state.

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