Austin wasn’t always the capital of the State of Texas. In 1839 it replaced Houston as the capital. It got its name Austin from the first Secretary of the State Stephen F Austin. After the establishment of the University of Texas and the reconstruction of Texas State Capitol in the late 1800s, it became more famous politically and education wise.
Here is a brief history of the Texas State Capitol
The capitol building as we see today is actually a result of a series of remodeling and renovating work. The original structure was built in the year 1853, which was (almost completely) destroyed by the great Capitol Fire in 1881. The restoration work, however, began quickly with Elijah E Myers as chief architect and Ruben Lindsay as the chief civil engineer.
The Capitol Land Board was responsible for overseeing the reconstruction work. The board asked for design and proposal submissions from all over the country and finalized the design received by Elijah. Elijah did not propose the circular design of the dome of the Texas State Capitol, it was proposed by the Capitol Land Board. The reconstruction of the State Capitol Building was granted 22 acres of land.
The reconstruction work began quickly in 1882 but was stopped again because of an electric fire. The process slowed down and what was supposed to take a couple of years took 6 years to complete.
Inspiration From Washington DC
Texas State Capitol is inspired from the Capitol Building in Washington, which in turn is actually modeled after Cathedral building in London. The cornerstone of the building was laid in 1885 and was opened to the general public in 1888. What most of us are unaware of is the fact that most of the material was purchased and produced locally including the granite material, which gives Capitol building a really nice look at twilight.
And as they say, everything is bigger in Texas; the Goddess of liberty statue is 2.13 meters higher than the actual statue of liberty.
All the 150 members of Texas House of Representatives meet in the Texas State Capitol and that is happening since 1888. Before 1922 the House of Representatives used to have a vocal voting system, which was later replaced by a computerized system. During the battle of San Jacinto, in 186, a flag was saved, which is still used in the house today. The original flag is so fragile that it is only used during a legislative session. A look-alike flag is used in its place during normal hours.
Texas State Capitol also has an office for the Governor of Texas. It has been there since 1876 and currently it is on the 2nd floor. It’s a huge office with space dedicated for the Governor’s staff as well.
Texas State Capitol building is free to visit for general public 7 days a week. For security reasons, the hours of the visit may vary. It is a great piece of architecture and history and a must-see if you are in Austin.