5 Fun Facts About the Historic Austin Capitol Building

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Tony Maples Photography


The state Capitol building in downtown Austin is the hub of Texas politics and a tribute to the state’s rich history. Austin’s grand structure is the largest state Capitol in the country, in terms of square footage. Here are some more interesting facts about the Capitol that you might not know:

1. It Was Inspired By the Nation’s Capitol Building

Video: Beyond Sight Media

The present building is actually the third incarnation of the state Capitol in Austin. In 1880, the state’s Building Commission announced a design competition for the new statehouse. Eight architects entered designs in the competition. In May 1881 the Capitol Board approved the design of Elijah E. Myers of Detroit. Myers’ design was modeled after the Renaissance Revival style of the national Capitol. At the time of its completion in 1882, it contained 392 rooms, 924 windows, 404 doors, and was 311 feet tall.

2. It Has a Fiery History


Photo: Pixabay

Austin’s second Capitol was built in 1853, due to structural instability with the first building. The second Capitol caught fire in 1881, expediting plans for the building we see today. After completion of the current building, the Capitol enjoyed a century flame-free, until 1983, when a fire tore through an apartment in building’s east wing. The fire killed a guest of the Lieutenant Governor and injured four firemen and a policeman.

3. It Has Its Own Song

Photo: Pixabay

Pianist and Composer Leonora Rives-Díaz was “…commissioned to compose a piece to commemorate the opening of the new capitol building in Austin.” During the week-long Capitol dedication festivities in 1888, copies of her composition, “State Capitol Grand Waltz,” were available for sale as souvenirs, selling at sixty cents each. The song was performed on the evening of May 18 at the dedication ball and was dedicated to Governor Lawrence S. Ross, the first Texas governor to occupy the new Capitol.

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