Oklahoma State Capitol

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Oklahoma State Capitol
Oklahoma State Capitol.jpg
The Oklahoma State Capitol
Location Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Coordinates 35°29′32.21″N 97°30′12.14″W / 35.4922806°N 97.5033722°W / 35.4922806; -97.5033722Coordinates: 35°29′32.21″N 97°30′12.14″W / 35.4922806°N 97.5033722°W / 35.4922806; -97.5033722
Built 1914-1919

Solomon Andrew Layton,

Architectural style Renaissance, Classical Revival
NRHP Reference # 76001572[1]
Added to NRHP 1976

The Oklahoma State Capitol is the house of government of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. It is the building that houses the Oklahoma Legislature and executive branch offices. It is located along Lincoln Boulevard in Oklahoma City. The present structure includes a dome completed in 2002. The building is a National Historic Landmark.

Oklahoma's first capital was Guthrie, Oklahoma, but it moved to Oklahoma City in 1910. Construction began on the Oklahoma State Capitol in 1914 and was completed in 1917. Originally, it housed the judicial branch of Oklahoma, but the state's high courts moved most of their operations to the Oklahoma Judicial Center in 2011, leaving only the Supreme Court Hearing Chamber in the capitol building.

The state capitol complex is the only state capitol grounds in the United States with active oil rigs.


Early capital of Guthrie (1889–1910)[edit]

Oklahoma's territorial capital and first state capital was located in the city of Guthrie.[2] The settlement of the first state capital began at noon on April 22, 1889, when cannons sounded the start of the Oklahoma land run.[3] The town was designated as the territorial capital in 1890.[2]

Entrance to Oklahoma State Capitol (1972 photograph)

Move to Oklahoma City and construction (1910–1917)[edit]

State government officials let voters decide on whether or not to move the capital to Oklahoma City. On June 11, 1910, the state seal was taken from Guthrie and moved south to Oklahoma City, where the Oklahoma State Capitol is located today. Lee Cruce, the second Governor of Oklahoma commissioned the architectural construction of the present day structure. Prior to its construction, state government offices were housed in the Huckins Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.[4]

Construction on the Oklahoma State Capitol began after a groundbreaking ceremony on July 20, 1914.[5] Architects Soloman Andrew Layton and S. Wemyss-Smith were paid $75,000 to develop the architectural plans, while James Stewart & Company received the construction contract.

The building's exterior is constructed mainly of Indiana limestone, with a base of local Oklahoma pink granite, and Oklahoma black granite for the grand staircase. The interior prominently features marble as well as fixtures from a variety of sources. While original plans called for a dome, it was omitted due to cost overruns discovered in 1915 when the original $1.5 million appropriated by the Oklahoma Legislature proved insufficient to fund the additional structure necessary to support and construct the dome.[6]

The building was completed on June 30, 1917.[5]

Earthquake damage[edit]

In 1952, a 5.5-magnitude earthquake near El Reno caused several cracks to materialize in walls and ceilings of the Capitol, including one crack measuring about 50 feet in length.[7][8]

Expansion and change (1998–present)[edit]

In 1998, state legislators and the governor enacted legislation to create the Oklahoma Centennial Act, which formed the Oklahoma Capitol Complex and Centennial Commemoration Commission.[5] The commission worked to fund a dome for the Oklahoma State Capitol and construction of the dome began in 2001 and was completed in 2002. It included a 22 feet (6.7 m) bronze sculpture called The Guardian.[5] During exterior restoration work in 2014, engineers discovered significant cracks in the precast panels that comprise the dome.[9]

In 2006, plans were made to move the judicial branch into the old Oklahoma Historical Society building, as the agency was moving into the Oklahoma History Center.[5] The court offices moved to the new Oklahoma Judicial Center in 2011.[10]

Ten Commandments Monument controversy[edit]

In 2009, Oklahoma State Representative Mike Ritze sponsored a bill to have a monument to the Ten Commandments installed at the capitol. His family supplied $10,000 to fund the monument, which was installed in late 2012.[11] The monument since has been labeled "a lightning rod of controversy."[12] It has been destroyed and re-erected once, and been the subject of both state and federal litigation.

In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma (ACLU) filed suit in state court over the placement of this religious monument on public property.[13] The case, Prescott v. Capitol Preservation Commission, was ultimately decided by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in June 2015, holding in a 7-2 decision that the monument violates the Oklahoma Constitution's ban on the use of public property to support religion.[14] The decision has proved extremely controversial, with some conservative state lawmakers even calling for impeachment of the Oklahoma Supreme Court or the amending of the Oklahoma Constitution to remove its ban on state religious support.[15] The monument was removed from the Capital grounds in October 2015.[16][17] Bruce Prescott, a Baptist minister, said "Frankly, I'm glad we finally got the governor and attorney general to agree to let the monument be moved to private property, which is where I believe it's most appropriate... I'm not opposed to the Ten Commandments. The first sermon I ever preached was on the Ten Commandments. I'm just opposed to it being on public property."[17]

A second lawsuit was filed by American Atheists in 2013, this time in federal court, alleging that the monument also violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. The suit was dismissed by the Federal District Court for lack of standing, and Prescott v. Capitol Preservation Commission was decided while an appeal was pending, likely rendering the case moot.[18]

Prior to the Prescott decision, the New York-based Satanic Temple, citing the government's constitutional obligation to not endorse any particular religion, had announced they would apply to have a privately funded statue honoring Baphomet on the capitol grounds.[19] A vandal destroyed the Ten Commandments monument in 2014 and plans for the Baphomet statue were put on hold as the Satanic Temple did not want their statue to stand alone at the capitol.[20] After the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered the monument removed, the statue was erected elsewhere in Detroit.[21] The statue may be moved to Arkansas if a Ten Commandments monument is erected there.[22]

Exterior and Capitol complex[edit]

The north façade of the Capitol building.

The Oklahoma State Capitol, located at 2300 North Lincoln Boulevard, Oklahoma City is composed primarily of white limestone and Oklahoma pink granite.[23] However, the building's dome is made of steel-reinforced concrete and reinforced plaster casts.[24]

The state capitol complex is famous for its oil wells and remains the only state capitol grounds in the United States with active oil rigs.[25] The capitol building is directly atop the Oklahoma City Oil Field.

The state capitol building and the surrounding government buildings, non-government agencies, museums, libraries, and tree lined streets and boulevards form the Oklahoma State Capitol Complex[26] or Capitol Campus. The complex includes the State Capitol Park, the Oklahoma History Center, the Oklahoma Judicial Center, and the Oklahoma Governor's Mansion. The 14,000-square-foot (1,300 m2) mansion has a limestone exterior to complement the Oklahoma State Capitol's exterior. The surrounding neighborhood is home to numerous restaurants and bars.

The Oklahoma History Center opened in 2005 and is operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society. It preserves the history of Oklahoma from prehistoric Native American tribes to the present day.


The west wing of the Capitol houses the Oklahoma House of Representatives chamber and offices. The east wing houses the Oklahoma Senate chamber and offices. The ceremonial office of the governor is located on the second floor. Elected state officials such as the state auditor and inspector, state treasurer, and state attorney general have offices on the first floor. The building also contains a museum, a cafeteria, and a barber shop.


Chickasaw artist Mike Larsen's mural Flight of Spirit, honoring the Five Moons, notable 20th-century Native American ballerinas from Oklahoma is on display in the Capitol rotunda. Several large paintings by Wayne Cooper are on display in the building. Many of them depict the early heritage and oil history of the state. Seminole artist Enoch Kelly Haney's painting "The Earth and I are One" is on display on the first floor of the building.

The Senate lobby includes a 6 by 10 feet (1.8 m × 3.0 m) oil-on-canvas painting of the "Ceremonial Transfer of the Louisiana Purchase in New Orleans - 1803" by Mike Wimmer. The Senate Lounge displays a watercolor painting entitled "Community of Boling Springs" by Sonya Terpening.[27]


See also[edit]

External video
Oklahoma State Capitol - Dome (2522081817).jpg
Oklahoma Capitol Building (15:23), C-SPAN[28]


  1. ^ "Oklahoma County," National Register of Historic Places
  2. ^ a b Wilson, Linda D. Guthrie. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  3. ^ Hoig, Stan. Land Run of 1889. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  4. ^ "Our History". Guthrie Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Savage, Cynthia. Oklahoma Capitol. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  6. ^ "In The Beginning—The Oklahoma State Capitol—Oklahoma State Archives—Oklahoma Department of Libraries". www.odl.state.ok.us. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  7. ^ Luza, Kenneth V. (2009). "Earthquakes". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved September 11, 2016. 
  8. ^ Allen, Sally (February 25, 2004). "Oklahoma shakedown: The 1952 earthquake". NewsOK. Retrieved September 11, 2016. 
  9. ^ Green, Rick (23 December 2014). "Oklahoma's 12-year-old Capitol Dome is significantly cracked". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  10. ^ Hoberock, Barbara (31 July 2011). "Oklahoma high courts move out of Capitol into Judicial Center". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  11. ^ McNutt, Michael (15 November 2012). "Ten Commandments monument is installed at Oklahoma state Capitol". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  12. ^ "Panel orders Ten Commandment monument removed from OK Capitol grounds". Retrieved 2015-10-03. 
  13. ^ "ACLU Challenges Oklahoma State Capitol Ten Commandments Monument" (Press release). American Civil Liberties Union. 13 August 2013. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  14. ^ "OSCN Found Document:PRESCOTT v. OKLAHOMA CAPITOL PRESERVATION COMMISSION". www.oscn.net. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  15. ^ Greco, Jonathan. "Reps call for impeachment of justices who ruled to remove 10 Commandments statue". Retrieved 2015-10-03. 
  16. ^ "Ten Commandments monument removed from Oklahoma Capital grounds". Reuters. 
  17. ^ a b "Workers quietly remove Ten Commandments from Oklahoma Capitol". USA TODAY. 6 October 2015. 
  18. ^ "Legal | Oklahoma Ten Commandments Monument". American Atheists. Retrieved 2015-10-03. 
  19. ^ Burke, Daniel (9 December 2013). "Satanists want statue next to 10 Commandments". CNN. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  20. ^ Evans, Sophie Jane (24 October 2014). "Oklahoma driver taken to mental facility for evaluation after 'smashing his car into Ten Commandments monument because Satan told him to do it'". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  21. ^ "Group gathers to protest unveiling of Baphomet statue with prayers". Detroit Free Press. 25 July 2015. 
  22. ^ David Trayner (26 July 2015). "Satanic Temple unveils controversial Baphomet sculpture to cheers of 'Hail Satan'". The Independent. 
  23. ^ "Oklahoma State Capitol Art Collection". Oklahoma Arts Council. Retrieved 2013-03-13. 
  24. ^ "Introduction". Oklahoma State Capitol Dome. Archived from the original on January 14, 2010. Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  25. ^ "State Capitol Archived December 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.," Oklahoma County Website(accessed May 3, 2010) Archived December 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ "Oklahoma State Capitol Complex Maps". Oklahoma Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  27. ^ "Senate Artwork". Oklahoma Senate. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  28. ^ "Oklahoma Capitol Building". C-SPAN. April 12, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Oklahoma State Capitol at Wikimedia Commons