Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol is located in Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas
Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of :Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 14th most populous city in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in...

, and is the fourth building to be the house of Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 government in Austin. It houses the chambers of the Texas Legislature
Texas Legislature
The Legislature of the state of Texas is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Texas. The legislature is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives. The Legislature meets at the Capitol in Austin...

 and the office of the governor of Texas
Governor of Texas
The governor of Texas is the head of the executive branch of Texas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Texas Legislature, and to convene the legislature...

. It was designed originally during 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers
Elijah E. Myers
Elijah E. Myers was a leading architect of government buildings in the latter half of the 19th century, and the only architect to design the capitol buildings of three U.S. states, the Michigan State Capitol, the Texas State Capitol, and the Colorado State Capitol. He also designed buildings in...

, and was constructed beginning 1882–88 by direction of civil engineer Reuben Lindsay Walker
Reuben Lindsay Walker
Reuben Lindsay Walker was a Confederate general who served in the artillery during the American Civil War.-Early life:...

. A $75 million underground extension was completed during 1993. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

 during 1970 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 during 1986. The Texas State Capitol building is 308 ft (94 m) tall.


Construction of the Italian Renaissance Revival style capitol was funded by an article of the state constitution, adopted February 15, 1876, which authorized the sale of public lands for the purpose. In one of the largest barter
Barter is a method of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money. It is usually bilateral, but may be multilateral, and usually exists parallel to monetary systems in most developed countries, though to a...

 transactions of recorded history, the builders of the capitol were paid with over three-million acres (12,000 km²) of public land in the "Panhandle"
Texas Panhandle
The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east...

 region of Texas; this tract later became the largest cattle ranch in the world, the XIT Ranch
XIT Ranch
The XIT Ranch was a cattle ranch in the Texas Panhandle which operated from 1885 to 1912. Comprising over 3,000,000 acres of land, it ran for two hundred miles along the border with New Mexico, varying in width from 20 to 30 miles...

. The value of the land, combined with expenses
Out-of-pocket expenses
Out-of-pocket expenses are direct outlays of cash which may or may not be later reimbursed.In operating a vehicle, gasoline, parking fees and tolls are considered out-of-pocket expenses for the trip...

, added to a total cost of $3.7 million for the original building. It was constructed largely by convicts or migrant workers, as many as a thousand at a time. The building has been renovated several times, with central air conditioning
Air conditioning
An air conditioner is a home appliance, system, or mechanism designed to dehumidify and extract heat from an area. The cooling is done using a simple refrigeration cycle...

 installed during 1955 and the most recent refurbishments completed during 1997.
The cornerstone for the building was laid on March 2, 1885, Texas Independence Day
Texas Independence Day
Texas Independence Day is the celebration of the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. With this document, settlers in Mexican Texas officially broke from Mexico, creating the Republic of Texas...

, and the completed building was opened to the public on April 21, 1888, San Jacinto Day
Battle of San Jacinto
The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican forces in a fight that lasted just eighteen...

. The building was originally planned to be constructed entirely of limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 from Oatmanville (present-day Oak Hill
Oak Hill, Texas
Oak Hill is a community in southwest Austin, Texas, United States that was formerly a distinct unincorporated area in southwestern Travis County. Originally called Live Oak Springs, Oak Hill is located on U.S. Highway 290 and Williamson Creek, eight miles south of Downtown Austin.-History:An 1865...

), about ten miles (16 km) to the southwest. However, the limestone was found to have a high iron content after it began to discolor. Learning of the problem, the owners of Granite Mountain
Granite Mountain (Texas)
Granite Mountain is a solid dome of pink granite rising over 860 feet one mile west of Marble Falls, Texas. Since quarry operations began in the late 19th century, the distinctive pink-red colored rock has been used in the construction of the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, and also for the...

 near Marble Falls
Marble Falls, Texas
Marble Falls is a city in Burnet County, Texas, United States. The population was 4,959 at the 2000 census.Marble Falls is about northwest of Austin and north of San Antonio...

 offered to donate to the state, free of charge, the necessary amount of pink granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 as an alternative. While the building is mostly built of the Oak Hill limestone, most of it is hidden behind the walls and on the foundations. Pink granite was used subsequently for many state government buildings in the Austin area.
On February 6, 1983 a fire began in the Lieutenant Governor
Lieutenant Governor of Texas
The Lieutenant Governor of Texas is the second-highest executive office in the government of Texas, a state in the U.S. It is the second most powerful post in Texas government because its occupant controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the...

's apartment in the building. A guest of the Lieutenant Governor was killed, and four firemen and a policeman were injured by the subsequent blaze. The capitol was crowded with accumulated archives, and the fire was intense and came dangerously close to destroying the structure. It caused severe damage to the east wing and compromised much of the framing, which was largely composed of exposed cast iron posts and beams. Restoration continued until 1993, however as the state took advantage of the extensive rebuilding to update the mechanical and structural systems to modern standards. Additionally, the state sought to address the growing lack of space in the old building, deciding that a new office wing should be added. The logical place for an addition was the plaza directly to the north. However, a large building there would have eliminated the historic north façade and covered what had been traditionally been seen as an important public space

In 1993, the $75 million underground Capitol Extension was completed to the north, doubling the square footage available to Capitol occupants and providing much improved functionality. In 1995, a comprehensive interior and exterior restoration of the original building was completed at a cost of approximately $98 million. Finally, in 1997, the park-like grounds surrounding the Capitol were given $8 million renovation and restoration.

Subsequently, to preserve the facade and historic plaza, the new Capitol Extension was built as a four-story underground structure, completed in 1993. Though the extension encompasses 667000 square feet (61,966.3 m²), nearly twice the floor space of the original building, there is little evidence of such a large structure at ground level, except for extensive skylights camouflaged as planter rows.


The capitol rotunda features portraits of every person who has served as president of the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

 or governor of the State of Texas. The south foyer features sculptures of Sam Houston
Sam Houston
Samuel Houston, known as Sam Houston , was a 19th-century American statesman, politician, and soldier. He was born in Timber Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, of Scots-Irish descent. Houston became a key figure in the history of Texas and was elected as the first and third President of...

 and Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin
Stephen Fuller Austin was born in Virginia and raised in southeastern Missouri. He was known as the Father of Texas, led the second, but first legal and ultimately successful colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States. The capital of Texas, Austin in Travis County,...

 made by Elisabeth Ney. The rotunda is also a whispering gallery
Whispering gallery
A whispering gallery is a gallery beneath a dome, vault, or enclosed in a circular or elliptical area in which whispers can be heard clearly in other parts of the building....

. The capitol has 360,000 square feet (33,000 square meters) of floor space, more than any other state capitol building, and is on 2.25 acres (.9 hectares) of land. The building has nearly four hundred rooms and more than nine hundred windows.

The Texas State Capitol was ranked ninety-second in the "America's Favorite Architecture" poll commissioned by the American Institute of Architects
American Institute of Architects
The American Institute of Architects is a professional organization for architects in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the AIA offers education, government advocacy, community redevelopment, and public outreach to support the architecture profession and improve its public image...

, that ranked the top hundred-and-fifty favorite architectural projects in America as of 2007. In a 2008 poll by the AIA, it was also ranked the number-one state capitol.


Located four blocks south of the University of Texas, the Texas Capitol building is surrounded by 22 acres of grounds and monuments. There are 17 monuments that surround the Texas Capitol. William Munro Johnson, civil engineer, was hired in 1888 to improve the appearance of the grounds. By the time the first monument, commemorating the Heroes of the Alamo
Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar . All but two of the Texian defenders were killed...

, was installed in 1891, the major components of Johnson's plan were in place. These included a "Great Walk" of black and white diamond-patterned pavement shaded by trees. The four oldest monuments are the Heroes of the Alamo, Volunteer Firemen, Confederate Soldiers
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 and Terry's Texas Rangers
Terry's Texas Rangers
The 8th Texas Cavalry, , popularly known as Terry's Texas Rangers, was a group of Texas volunteers for the Confederate States Army assembled by Colonel Benjamin Franklin Terry in August 1861...

, and flank the tree-lined Great Walk.

A granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

A monument is a type of structure either explicitly created to commemorate a person or important event or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, or simply as an example of historic architecture...

 of the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

 on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol was the topic of a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 case, Van Orden v. Perry
Van Orden v. Perry
Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677 was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, involving whether a display of the Ten Commandments on a monument given to the government at the Texas State Capitol in Austin violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.In a...

in which the display was challenged as unconstitutional
Constitutionality is the condition of acting in accordance with an applicable constitution. Acts that are not in accordance with the rules laid down in the constitution are deemed to be ultra vires.-See also:*ultra vires*Company law*Constitutional law...

. During late June 2005, the Court ruled that the display was not unconstitutional.

External links

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