Michigan State Capitol - History - Third State Capitol

Third State Capitol

In the early 1870s, Governor Henry P. Baldwin urged the legislature to fund a new, permanent capitol. On March 31, 1871, a bill was adopted "for the erection of a new state capitol, and a building for the temporary use of the state officers." The new capitol was to cost $1.2 million ($ 23 million in 2012), to be raised by a six-year state income tax.

In 1872, architect Elijah E. Myers of Springfield, Illinois, was selected to design the new capitol building. His design, named "Tuebor" (which means "I will defend"), was selected. Myers used the central dome and wing design found in the United States Capitol in his design and subsequently went on to design two other state capitol buildings, the statehouses of Colorado State Capitol and Texas State Capitol, as well as the former territorial capitol building of Idaho, the most by any architect. The cornerstone was laid on October 2, 1873, with about 7,000 Lansing residents and some 30,000 to 50,000 visitors attending. Construction and finishing work were completed by late 1878. The new capitol, with 139 rooms, was dedicated at the same time as the inauguration of Governor Charles Croswell on January 1, 1879.

The Lansing capitol building inspired a national trend after the American Civil War for fireproof buildings, large enough to house expanding government as well as serving as a durable repository for artifacts of the war (including battle flags that were subsequently moved to the Michigan Historical Museum in 1990).Over the years the dome, which at first matched the light tan of the building, was repainted a bright white. The legislature funded an extensive historical restoration starting in 1989 which was completed in 1992. The restoration returned the dome to an off-white shade and made improvements to the interior, providing for access to people with disabilities as well as restoring many of the original interior designs. One of the largest phases of the restoration entailed removal of "half-floors" that were installed in 1969 to create 50,000 square feet (4,600 m2) of additional office space. The floors were created by dividing the 16-foot (4.9 m)-high rooms horizontally and creating a level of rooms which was accessed from the stairway landing. The Capitol Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 25, 1971 (NRHP Reference #71000396), and was designated as a National Historic Landmark on October 5, 1992.

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