A Capitol Idea!

It's a big country out there, with 50 states. Each state has a capital (City where the government is). Each capital city seems to have a capitol building (main building of the state government). NOT has traveled to see all of them.  So far he's been to 39 of the 50 state capitols.  But the travels continue...


The first capitol building in Montgomery was destroyed by fire in 1849, after being occupied for only 2 years. The building was re-erected in 1851 on the same site.  The capitol building in Montgomery Alabama was  where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office as the first and only president of the Confederate States of America. Alabama initially joined as the 22nd state in 1819.




In the land of the midnight sun, the capital of Juneau is the only state capital that cannot be driven to from elsewhere in the state, or the country.



Sun Drenched Phoenix houses the Arizona Capitol. This building has served as the capitol for the Arizona Territory and the State of Arizona. It has been restored to the way it looked in 1912, when it officially became the 48th state.


Arkansas State Capitol, Little Rock


Built on the site of a state penitentiary and using prisoners as laborers, the building took 16 years to be erected (1899-1915). The site was laid out by eye on Fifth Street which ran parallel to the Arkansas River instead of the normal grid of roads in Little Rock, setting the building askew from the city's square gridlines.   The state was the 25th admitted to the union in 1836.



L.A. may be considered California's most important city but the capitol (and the Governator) resides in Sacramento. For the first 10 years California had no permanent capital until Sacramento was settled upon in 1860. Reuban Clark designed and supervised the building's construction and took 14 years to complete, though the legislature began meeting in the half completed building in 1869. California was the 31st state to ratify the Constitution, doing so in 1850.


If you play "Find the Duck" this close-up might help.


Colorado's state capital was designed with the nation's capitol in mind.  It is topped off with a gold dome to commemorate the gold rush days of Colorado, begun in 1859 within two years the rush increased the population of the state by 10,000 people.  Colorado joined the union in 1889 as the 38th state.


Hartford is the Home for Connecticut's Capitol. The capitol building opened in 1878. Designed by Richard Upjohn, the building is done in High Victorian Gothic style, and was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1971.  Connecticut was the fifth state to ratify the Constitution, doing so in 1788.









Atlanta burned, but it also is home of the Georgia state capitol.  According to the state's Web site: "Constructed between 1884 and 1889, this monumental neoclassical structure with its gilded dome is the perfect expression and symbol for the capitol of the 'New South' as Atlanta considered itself to be after the Reconstruction.  Along with many state capitols, its design and form follow architectural precedents established by the United States Capitol."  Georgia was our fourth state, joining in 1788, one week before Connecticut.







Idaho joined the union as the 43rd state in 1890.  In the capital of Boise, the state capitol building was constructed between 1905 and 1912 in the classical style of the nation's capitol. Wings were added on the east and west sides in 1919-20.



Springfield Illinois may not have had Homer Simpson, but it was big enough to have two capitol buildings. The first session in this "new" state capitol met in 1877, almost 60 years after the Illinois became the 21st state in 1818.


Indiana Capitol


   The Indiana Statehouse, located in Indianapolis was built in 1888. It is the fifth building to house the state's government. It replaced the previous statehouse which was inspired by the Parthenon, but was condemned in 1877.



   The Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, was built between 1871 and 1886, and is a fine example of 19th century architecture. The dome is constructed of steel and brick. A belvedere on top of the large dome features a golden lantern at the top. In addition, four smaller golden lanterns are each attached to copper-covered domes at every corner of the building. These four domes are decorated with vertical lines of intermittent gold, giving each a braided look.  Iowa was the 29th state in the Union, joining in 1846.



NOT had To-peka at the capitol of Kansas.

Kansas' capitol took a bit to get going. The east wing cornerstone was laid in 1866, but after a severe winter, the cornerstone and wing foundation crumbled in 1867.  Starting with sturdier stone, the Legislature first met in the wing in 1870. The west wing was begun in 1879, and the central part linking the two wings and topped by the dome was begun in 1885. After some setbacks the building was completed in 1890.  The former "bleeding Kansas joined the union 5 years before the construction began on the building, becoming the 34th state in 1861.








Baton Rouge.





The building was completed in 1832, one year after Augusta became the capital of Maine. Built using Maine granite, the State House was based on the design of the Massachusetts State House

Maine State Capitol

Main State House 2


Maryland's capitol building stands in the beautiful city of Annapolis, truly one of the most beautiful capital cities in the U.S.

The Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol still in continuous legislative use. The building, designed by Joseph Horatio Anderson, was begun in 1772, and completed, after a delay for the American Revolution, in 1779.  The dome was added in 1794 and is the oldest and largest wooden dome of its kind in the U.S. It is the only state house ever to have served as the nation's capitol, with the Continental Congress meeting here from 1783-1784.   Maryland was our 7th state, joining in 1788.




The gold leaf domed capital of Massachusetts in Boston was designed by the famous architect Charles Bullfinch and was completed in 1798, Ten years after Massachusetts became the 6th state in 1788. The State House is the oldest building on Beacon Hill. Oliver Wendell Holmes called the State House "the hub of the solar system." Today the city of Boston, not the State House is known as "The Hub."

NOT is sitting on the middle of the picture on one of the cement stands. 








Minnesota has a capitol building as big as the ego of its former governor, Jesse Ventura.

Designed by Cass Gilbert, this capitol is the third for the state, and was influenced by the buildings in the "White City" of the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. The dome utilizes stone ribs, similar to the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. The building opened at the beginning of 1905, just after Minnesota celebrated 50 years of statehood, having joined the Union in 1858 as the 32nd state.   Cass Gilbert went on to design the capitol buildings for Arkansas and West Virginia.

It was not NOT's first interaction with Cass Gilbert, having visited a fountain he had designed in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.



The Beaux Arts style building in Jackson was completed in 1903, serving as the third capitol for the state. It is built on the site of the old state penitentiary, of which less comments made the better. (Though I did have to check and make sure it was Mississippi and not Louisiana)  Mississippi joined the union in 1817 as the 20th state.



Jefferson City










At 15 stories and 400 feet (121 m) tall, it is the second-tallest U.S. statehouse, surpassed only by the 34-story Louisiana State Capitol. It is the tallest building in Lincoln, and the third-tallest in the state. The building was designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, who drew upon Classical and Gothic architectural traditions. It was constructed between 1922 and 1932, of Indiana limestone.

Nebraska State Caitol

Nevada Capitol


Carson City.

Nestled at the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Carson City ahs been the only capital for the state since it's admission in 1864. The building, built in the 1870's, was originally designed to be a cruciform layout but was added on to in the early years of the 20th century to expand two wings for legislature use and an addition to house the first state library.


New Hampshire


The capitol building houses the New Hampshire General Court, Governor and Executive Council and was built in the Greek Revival style with smooth granite blocks. The first session of the General Court began in 1819. The State House is the oldest state capitol in which the legislature meets in its original chambers.


New Hampshire State Capitol

NH Capitol Marker

New Jersey

The New Jersey State House was originally built in 1792 by Jonathan Doane, with major additions being built in 1845 and 1865. New Jersey was our 3rd state, joining in 1787.


New Mexico

Santa Fe.



NY Capitol

NY Capitol Barricades

New York


Taking over 32 years to construct between 1867 and 1899 the building saw work under several architects and blends Classical/Romanesque and Renaissance Classical styles. Originally the assembly chamber was built with the largest open arched span in the world however the result was less than optimal acoustically and shifting in the building compromised the arch's integrity. As a result a false ceiling was constructed to help with sound and to prevent the falling of stone onto the chamber floor.  The building is reportedly haunted by several ghosts of people who lost their lives in the building either by accident or suicide.



North Carolina

Completed in 1840, the Greek Revival building is built in a cross shape with a 97 foot dome in the center. This is the second building on this site. The Supreme Court and state library were housed in the building until they moved into their own homes in 1888. North Carolina was the 12th of the original 13 colonies to become a state in 1789.


North Carolina Capitol Building

North Dakota

North Dakota's capitol is often referred to as the "the Skyscraper on the Prairie."  It is the tallest structure in the area, though not in the state. The tallest structure in the state is the KVLY-TV mast in Blanchard, which at 2063 feet is currently the tallest supported structure on land.  At 241.75 feet, the capitol is considerably shorter. The Capitol Building, as you see it now, was completed in 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression. A great fire had leveled the original Capitol building on the night of December 28, 1930. North Dakota was admitted concurrently with South Dakota in 1889 and is either the 39th or 40th state (no one knows which is which).




Ohio may be round on both ends, but the capitol in Columbus does not look round on top. The building is in the Greek Revival architectural style, and was begin in 1839 though it was not finished until 1861. In those intervening 22 years, 5 lead architects were involved in the project. The original design neglected to include any heating or ventilation so maybe it's no wonder that so many architects were involved. Ohio was 58 years a state by the time the building was finished, having joined in 1803 as the 17th state.



Oklahoma's capitol is the only capitol building in the world surrounded by working oil wells.  Construction on the dome was put on hold because of steel shortages in World War I, and never ended up being added. The building was constructed between 1914 and 1917 and is completed in a classic Greco-Roman style architecture. The building was done in time for Oklahoma to celebrate 10 years of being the 46th state, joining in 1907.



Oregon has not had good luck with capitol buildings. The first destroyed the newly occupied building in 1855.  The replacement was built in 1876 only to be destroyed by fire in 1935. The current building uses Modern Greek architecture and was dedicated in 1938.  It is according to the state the fourth newest capitol in the United States.  Oregon was our 33rd state, coming aboard in 1859.



Italian Renaissance in style, the capitol in Harrisburg was dedicated in 1906. It's dome was also modeled on the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.  When dedicated, President Teddy Roosevelt is said to have called it the "handsomest building I ever saw."  Such a new building for the 2nd state in the union from 1787.


Rhode Island

In the Neoclassical style, the capitol in Providence  was designed by the firm McKim, Mead & White and was dedicated in 1903. A large building for such a small state.


South Carolina Capitol, Columbia

South Carolina

The Greek-Revival style building was begun in 1851, but work was slowed by problems with the architect, poor materials and the Civil War. The building was spared being torched along with a lot of the city by General Sherman, though the fires and soot from surrounding buildings damaged the structure in progress. It was completed in 1907 after further delay due to tough economic times during Reconstruction.  South Carolina was one of the original 13 colonies, admitted 8th in 1788. It was the first state to secede from the Union on December 20, 1860 and was readmitted following the war in July 1868.

South Dakota

South Dakota joined along with North Dakota in 1889 (as the 39th or 40th state). This building was between 1905 and 1910 and is a modified version of the Montana State Capitol in Helena.




Upon a high hill in Nashville, the Tennessee State Capitol, done in Greek Revival style,  was completed in 1859.  During the Civil War, the Union forces occupied Nashville and transformed the capitol into "Fortress Andrew Johnson."  The grounds hold the tombs of President and Mrs. Polk. Tennessee joined the union in 1796 as the 16th state.



The original capitol in Austin was completed in 1853, soon after Texas' admission to the union in 1845 as the 28th state.  In 1881, the building went up in flames. The current building was constructed between 1885 and 1888. The building is supposed to be taller than the United States Capitol Building.



Utah's capitol building is the second for the state. The first was located in the small town of Filmore, built by federal decree until Salt Lake City became the territorial capital in 1855.  This Renaissance Revival building was completed in 1896. The dome and interior is filled with beehive representations - the beehive being Utah's state symbol.  The state officially took possession of the building in January 1896, when Utah became the 45th state.







Completed in 1798, from original designs by Virginian Thomas Jefferson, it stands as an "temple on the hill" in the Ionic style.  The building was renovated early in the 20th century to accommodate the legislature, and is undergoing reconditioning and improvement now early in the 21st century. Virginia became our 10th state in 1788, and Richmond served as the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War.



Echoing the capitol in that other Washington, the state capitol in Olympia is a mixture of Roman, Greek and neo Classical styles and was constructed between 1922 and 1928. It was completed in time for the state's 40th birthday, having joined up in 1889 as the 42nd state.


West Virginia

Designed by Cass Gilbert (see Minnesota above) the building makes a U shape with the rotunda and two wings.  Built between 1924 and 1932, it echoes the classical architecture style with Corinthian capitals on the pillars, and an exact replica of the Liberty Bell in front.  West Virginia (separated from Virginia, or I guess "East Virginia) joined in 1863 as our 35th state.



The first capitol building in Madison was begun in 1837 and quickly proved inadequate for the growing needs. In 1857-1869 the building was added on to, including adding a dome.  1882 saw two wings added to the building. By 1903 the legislature again realizes that the capitol may be inadequate for needs and creates a committee to look at this issue. Before the committee could really get started the building, considered the 2nd state capitol,  suffered major damage in a fire in 1904. Construction of the 3rd state capitol began in 1906 and is completed in 1917. By that point, Wisconsin was 69 years old, having joined as the 30th state in 1848.



The cornerstone of the capitol in Cheyenne was laid in 1887, three years before the state joined the union as the 44th state. The building, completed in 1890 is done in Corinthian architectural style and is supposed to echo the U.S. Capitol.


Much of the information here came from various state government Web sites about the state's capitol.

Other Travels
U.S. Travels

Photo courtesy of David Backman: CA, CO, ID, IL, KS, MN, ND, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WY
Photo by J.J. Kwashnak: AL, AR, CT, GA, IA, MA, MD, MS, NC, PA, TN, WI
Photo courtesy of Nancy Melley: NJ
Photo courtesy of Bob Weisenseel: OH
Photo courtesy of Mark Serencha: IN, ME, NH, NE, OK
Photo courtesy of Amy Lilien-Harper: WV
Photo courtesy of Alissa Daniels: VA
Photo courtesy of Cynthia Donovan: RI
Photo courtesy of Thad Moore: SC
Photo courtesy of Paul Hofnagel: NY

Updated July 2012