Illinois State Capitol
Illinois State Capitol
Front of the Capitol
|Location||Capitol Ave. and Second St., Springfield, Illinois|
|Area||9 acres (3.6 ha)|
|Architect||Alfred H. Piquenard, et al.|
|Architectural style||Renaissance Revival|
|Governing body||State of Illinois|
|NRHP Reference #||85003178|
|Added to NRHP||November 21, 1985|
The Illinois State Capitol, located in Springfield, Illinois, is the building that houses the executive and legislative branches of the government of the U.S. state of Illinois. The current building is the sixth capitol of the state since its admission as a state of the United States in 1818. The current capitol is in the architectural style of the French Renaissance. The capitol was designed by Cochrane and Garnsey, an architecture and design firm based in Chicago, Illinois. Ground was first broken for the new capitol on March 11, 1869, and it was completed twenty years later for a total cost of $4,500,000.
The capitol dome is covered in zinc to provide a silvery facade which does not weather. The interior of the dome features a plaster frieze painted to resemble bronze, which illustrates scenes from Illinois history, and stained glass windows (including a stained glass replica of the state seal in the oculus of the dome). The seal featured in the top of the dome is the seal used by Illinois prior to the American Civil War. It differs from the modern seal in that the phrase "State Sovereignty" is above the phrase "National Union." After the Civil War, the legislature voted to reverse these phrases as they professed that National Union was the more important of these two concepts.
With a total height of 361 feet (110 m), the Illinois capitol is the tallest non-skyscraper capitol, even exceeding the height of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC. The only state capitols taller than it are the non-classical designs found in Florida, Louisiana and Nebraska, the governments of which opted for more modern buildings for their current capitols. The dome itself is 92.5 feet (28.2 m) wide, and is supported by solid bedrock, 25.5 feet (7.77 m) below the surface. It is the highest (though not the tallest) building in Sangamon County. The Springfield Hilton hotel is technically taller than the Capitol building, however it is on lower ground, making the Capitol building higher. A city statute does not allow buildings to be built higher than the Capitol building. The building itself is shaped like a Latin cross aligned to the major compass directions, and measures 379 feet (116 m) from the north end to the south end, and 268 feet (81.7 m) from the east end to the west end. The capitol occupies a nine acre plot of land which forms the capitol grounds. William Douglas Richardson served as one of the principal contractors for the construction of the capitol building, and Jacob Bunn, an in-law of W. D. Richardson, served as chairman of the capitol construction steering committee.
When the capitol was constructed, several empty shafts were included for the future installation of elevators. The original water-operated elevators were installed in 1887 and were sometimes the subject of ridicule by local newspapers as they were deemed inadequate for a building with the prestige of the State Capitol. It is unknown when the first electric elevators were installed, but the first mention of them occurs in 1939, when the legislature appropriated $30,000 for repair of the electric elevators.
In 2011, the new state capitol underwent a $50 million renovation, primarily focused on the west wing, to upgrade life safety, ADA and mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure as well as architectural improvements to bring the capitol closer to its original 1870s appearance, the "period of significance" for the building. Improvements included refinishing of interiors, maiden lamp posts for the grand staircase, new chandeliers, exposed brick arches in the basement, removal of a second floor mezzanine, and copper-clad front doors.
The addition of the maiden statues is particularly notable, since they had been intended for the building since the 1870s when designed by architect Alfred Piquenard. Piquenard was also the architect for the new Iowa State capitol, which is of a similar style, albeit 3/4 the size. The Illinois congressmen of the 1870s thought that the scantily clad women were too risqué. The Iowans had no objection. Illinois therefore had plain lamps installed at the base of its grand staircase, whereas the maiden lamps intended for Illinois were instead delivered to and installed at the Iowa capitol, where they remain to this day. The lamps now installed at Illinois as part of this renovation are replicas of those at Iowa's state capitol. 
Old State Capitol
Front of the Old Capitol
|Location||Bounded by 5th, 6th, Adams, and Washington Sts., Springfield, Illinois|
|Area||2.5 acres (1.01 ha)|
|Architect||John F. Rague|
|Architectural style||Greek Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||66000331|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
The current Capitol of Illinois is the sixth such building in the history of the state. The first was located in Kaskaskia, Illinois, a city on the Mississippi River founded by the French in 1709. Kaskaskia had been the territorial capital of Illinois since 1809, so it was deemed an appropriate location for the capital of the new state. The first capitol building was rented by the state and was by all accounts a simple two-story building which the state leased for $4.00 a day.
Wishing to site the capital in the state's interior, the first General Assembly petitioned Congress for a grant of suitable land. Congress offered, and the state accepted, a land parcel on the Kaskaskia River about eighty miles northeast of Kaskaskia. This location, which would be named Vandalia, Illinois, was selected partly with the hopes of encouraging settlers to relocate to other parts of the state which were still uninhabited. The state let its lease on the first capital in Kaskaskia expire (the building burned in 1824, and Kaskaskia was destroyed by a sudden change of the course of the Mississippi River in 1881).
In 1820, with the completion of the new, or "Second", capitol, Vandalia became the capital of the state. A third capitol was soon built for a cost of $15,000. Soon after its construction, many citizens began to advocate relocating the capitol to a location nearer the center of the state. A bill was introduced in 1833 for a statewide vote to determine a new location from a list of several choices including Alton, Jacksonville, Peoria, Springfield, Vandalia, and the state's actual geographic center. While Alton was the victor, the legislature determined the margin too small to be conclusive, and the vote was ignored. In 1836, a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln, along with colleagues of his of the legal profession, began to advocate moving the capital to Springfield. That summer the third capitol was demolished and replaced with the fourth capitol (built at a cost of $16,000) in an effort to keep the capital in Vandalia. Although the new brick structure was extravagant, the General Assembly ignored the gesture and voted to relocate the capital to Springfield on February 25, 1837.
On July 4, 1837, the first brick was laid for Illinois' fifth capitol. It was designed by John F. Rague who also designed the nearly identical Iowa Territorial Capitol. In 1853, the capitol was completed for a total sum of $260,000, almost twenty times the cost of any such previous structure. The building was designed in the Greek Revival style from stone quarried six miles (10 km) from the site. For many years, it was the largest and most extravagant capitol of the western frontier of the United States. The fifth capitol is associated with Abraham Lincoln as it was here that he argued cases before the Illinois Supreme Court, here that he served with the State Legislature, here that he first debated Stephen Douglas, here where he delivered his famous "House Divided" speech, and here where he lay in state after his assassination on May 4, 1865.
As Illinois prospered and experienced several booms in population, the fifth capitol became crowded, especially as a result of relocations after the Civil War. On February 24, 1867, the state voted to construct a new larger capitol. After breaking the ground for the sixth and current Capitol in 1868, the state recouped the costs of the fifth capitol by selling it to Sangamon County for $200,000. It served as the county court house until 1961 when the state again purchased the building and restored it as a historic landmark, the Old State Capitol State Historic Site.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Finke, Doug (Aug 25, 2013). "$50 million Capitol west wing renovation almost done". The State Journal-Register. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- "Renovation and copper doors at Illinois New State Capitol".
- Mansheim, Gerald (1989). Iowa City: An Illustrated History. Norfolk, Virginia: The Donning Company. pp. 36–40.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Illinois State Capitol.|
- Located in Vandalia,
- Illinois Historical Preservation Agency, Vandalia Old State Capitol
- Vandalia Old State Capitol
- Located in Springfield,
- Illinois Historical Preservation Agency, Springfield Old State Capitol
Sixth Statehouse (Current)
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