Texas Capitol (History + Fascinating Facts)

Read In: 7 minutes

When visiting Texas, it’s a must to visit the Texas State Capitol. It is a National Historic Landmark and well known to be one of the U.S.A’s most eminent State Capitols. It is the seat of the government in Texas, and here you will find the chambers and offices of the Texas Legislature.

Designed by E.E. Myers, the Texas State Capitol building is in Austin, Texas. The cornerstone of the red granite building was laid in 1885 and contained a zinc box with mementos. The official dedication of the Texas Capitol was on May 16, 1888, and attended by Senator Temple Houston.

Capitol building in Austin Texas. - Texas View

About Texas Capitol

Work on the Texas State Capitol building began in 1882 after a design by architect Elijah E. Myers. While work was completed by 1888, a new underground extension was added by 1993. It is the sixth-tallest of the State Capitol buildings, reaching 302.64 feet.

The current Texas Capitol replaced the 1853 Capitol building, which was destroyed by fire and is actually the fourth Capitol building in Austin. Although it was initially intended to be built of limestone, it was eventually constructed from the local red granite, which was given by the owners of Granite Mountain in Burnet County.

Facts About The Texas Capitol

  • Location: Austin, Texas, located in the downtown area
  • County: Travis County
  • Land Area: 51.4 acres
  • Height: 302.64 feet
  • Built: 1885
  • Architect: Elijah E. Myers
  • Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival Design, modeled after Washington Capitol
  • Total cost: $3,744,630.60
The Texas State Capitol Building in downtown Austin Texas. - Texas View

History Of The Texas Capitol

Even before a fire destroyed the Texas capitol building in 1881, the Texas government had set aside lands and funds to begin the construction of a new building. They used a competition to select an architect, and eleven different designs were entered into the Texas Capitol competition.

  • The competition was won by an architect from Detroit, Elijah E. Myers
  • Myers entered the competition under a pseudonym and is the only architect to have designed three Capitol buildings
  • The original design was meant to be constructed from limestone, but the local limestone was unsuitable due to iron particles
  • The design was simplified, allowing the engineers to use Texas red granite for Granite Mountain
  • The quarrying was done by convicts and later by imported Scottish granite cutters.
READ   When Do Deer Lose Their Velvet in Texas?

The Construction Of The Texas Capitol

The construction of the Capitol was plagued by difficulties. Problems occurred both in the early stages and after the work was completed. Specific parts of the original Capitol have been moved to preserve them and placed on display to the public.

  • Using Scottish granite cutters violated the Contract Labor Act and sparked a boycott.
  • Although completed in 1888, the copper roof leaked, and the Capitol Board refused to accept it.
  • The east wing was damaged by a fire in 1983, and the State Preservation Board was created to restore it.
  • The original iron and zinc Goddess of Liberty, which graced the top of the building, was removed after nearly a hundred years.
  • A new goddess was cast from molds made from the original, and this new aluminum statue was placed on the dome in 1986.
Ceiling of A nice clean shot of the Texas State Capitol Building in downtown Austin Texas. - Texas View

Where Is The Texas State Capitol?

You’ll find the Texas Capitol building in Austin, Texas, in the downtown area. The address is 1100 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas, 78701. Once a tiny frontier town called Waterloo, it was eventually renamed Austin after Stephen F. Austin. It became the state capital and the home of the Capitol building.

Nearby Locations

  • Waterloo Park
  • Texas Governer’s Mansion
  • State Library and Archives
  • Sam Houston Building

The Texas Capitol occupies a large area of land in downtown Austin. It is surrounded by the university and government buildings and has many museums nearby. To the east lies Waterloo Park, which has many walking trails, and hosts events such as festivals.

The Layout Of The Texas Capitol

The Capitol building sits on beautiful extensive grounds and is home to 22 monuments. There are several other notable buildings on the grounds.

The building is accessed via Congress Avenue, off 15th Street. There are four upper levels, a ground floor, and two underground levels in the extension.

Areas Of Interest In Texas Capitol

  • Visitor Galleries
  • Historic Courtrooms
  • Legislative Library
  • Legislative Chambers
  • Agricultural Museum
  • Exhibits

The Texas Capitol can be visited, and the standard opening hours are 7am to 10pm. The information desk for the Capitol and tours is located in the south lobby on the 1st floor, and free daily tours begin here.

  • Capitol tours run weekdays 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • Saturday 9:30n am – 3:30 pm
  • Sunday from noon – 3:30 pm
READ   Brown Recluse Texas (Misunderstood)
The Capitol in Texas photo from a drone. - Texas View

What To Do In The Texas Capitol

The Capitol building is well worth visiting, not only for its historical importance but for the exhibits, the stunning grounds, and the impressive architecture. You can follow a free thirty-minute tour or grab a pamphlet and follow a self-guided tour. The 22 acres of surrounding land are home to historic buildings and 22 monuments.

  • Featured exhibits change, but you can expect to see the Capitol Dome Model and the history of the Texas Revolution Soldiers.
  • Picture galleries and Monuments
  • Historical Galleries and Spaces

While the Capitol still functions as the seat of Texas Government Legislature and the Ofiice of the Governer of Texas, many spaces are still open to the public, and you can view them throughout the day. It is free to tour the grounds and the Capitol, though some places will not be open to tours as they are used for official business, or must be preserved.

Capitol Visitors Center Exhibits

The exhibits in the Capitol are varied, covering historical blueprints and imagery to recreate the life of Texas Revolution Soldiers. You can expect to see models of the Capitol dome, digital stations showing the timeline of the Capitol, films showing the history f the Capitol, and even a LEGO Capitol made from 65,000 bricks.

Texas Capitol Collection

Three different galleries boast paintings, documents, and artifacts from the history f Texas and the Capitol. In the Governors and Presidents Gallery are old and modern portraits of governors and presidents who hailed from Texas, which included George W. Bush.

In the Capitol Artwork gallery, scenes from battles and the history of Texas include Dawn at the Alamo and Fording the Pecos River.

In the Artifacts and Documents Gallery, you’ll see furniture and artifacts from the Capitol building, the Goddess of Liberty, and sheet music.

Capitol Grounds Monuments

The beautifully maintained grounds surrounding the Texas Capitol are home to 22 monuments commemorating people and events in Texas history. There are equestrian statues for the Texas Cowboys and Texas Rangers and monuments to Vietnam Veterans, Texas Children, and Pioneer Women. All monuments are free to visit.

Some areas in the Capitol have historical significance but are not open to the general public due to preservation requirements or official functions. These include The Lt. Governor’s Reception Room, the House Speaker’s Apartment, and the Subterranean Vault. Explore these in the Hidden Spaces Gallery.

Reconstructed views of historically and architecturally significant places in the Capitol are found in this Gallery. These spaces still function as intended and are used by the current state government.

By using original or reproduction furniture, artwork, and décor, preservationists have maintained these rooms as they would have appeared between 1888 and 1915.

Where To Eat Near Texas Capitol

  • The Capitol Grill – located in Capitol Extension, Room E1.002, the Capitol Grill offers breakfast and lunch on weekdays.
  • The Star Café – located in the Bullock Museum, 2nd floor, you can enjoy breakfast, sandwiches, wraps, coffees, and desserts from Tuesday to Sunday.
  • Texas Chilli Parlour – An American and Southwestern Bar 0.2 miles from the Texas Capitol, famous for their brisket
  • Caffe Aragona – A café with quick meals, pasties, and coffess, only 0.2miles from the Capitol
  • Quattro Gatti – Italian restaurant and pizzeria 0.2 miles from the Texas Capitol
READ   Most Common Texas Trees (Detailed)

Where To Stay Near Texas Capitol

  • Hotel ZaZa Austin – 0.2 miles from the Capitol; fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, bar, private parking
  • The Stephen F. Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel – 0.1 miles from the Capitol; pet-friendly, swimming pool, hot tub, fitness center
  • JW Marriott Austin – 0.2 miles from the Capitol; parking, swimming pool, spa, fitness center
  • Residence Inn Austin Downtown – 0.2 miles from the Capitol; pet-friendly, swimming pool, fitness center, parking

Texas Capitol FAQs

Is There Parking At The Texas Capitol?

The Capitol Vistors Parking Garage has parking available for visitors. The first two hours are free, but you’ll be charged $1 for each subsequent half hour. The maximum parking fee is $12. No overnight parking is permitted.

What Times Can You Visit The Texas Capitol?

The Texas Capitol is open to the public between 7 am – 8 pm on weekdays and 9 am – 8 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The Capitol is closed on the following days: Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

How Much To Visit The Texas Capitol?

It is free of charge to visit the Texas Capitol building and grounds. All tours, whether guided or self-guided from pamphlets, are free. The building is open to the public, and the only costs are parking or buying items from the gift shop.

Is The Texas Capitol Worth Visiting?

Since it is home to so much Texan history, it is worth visiting if you have a keen interest in history. However, it is worth visiting because of its beautiful grounds, stunning architecture, and many monuments. Guided tours are free, and the enthusiasm of the tour guides will make exploring the Capitol fascinating.

References:

Author Profile
Christian Linden Texas View Headshot 3 - Texas View
Author at Texas View | Texas View

Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.

Share me 🙂

Read these ...