Capitol Restoration

Photo of the capitol build being built

A magnificent 19th century edifice, the Capitol today must also function as a modern workplace for state officials and their staffs. Over the years, the space needed for increased personnel and office equipment has greatly exceeded the building's original capacity, contributing to the acceleration of the normal deterioration due to the passage of time. The need to preserve this important cultural landmark from further deterioration prompted a 1988 proposal to renovate and reconstruct the Capitol. Funding was approved and, in 1990, groundbreaking for the project began under the guidance of the State Preservation Board and the Capitol architect.

One of the main objectives of the restoration project was to return the Capitol to its original 19th century grandeur. In planning this complex undertaking, care was taken to ensure that the building's original beauty was not altered. Thus, any visible above-grade addition to the historic structure was ruled out, as was any encroachment into the historic wooded grounds to the south, east, and west of the Capitol.

Office space to alleviate crowded conditions in the Capitol, as well as additional parking space, was created in an underground extension on the Capitol's north side. The extension features two skylit occupied levels and two parking levels.

The exterior Capitol restoration was completed in spring 1993. Removal and restoration of the 1888 wooden windows, cleaning and reappointing of the granite walls, and extensive repair of the metal dome and roof were the most critical activities of the exterior work. The exterior and interior restoration of the Italian Renaissance Revival style Capitol focused on the period 1888, when the construction was completed, to 1915 before major remodeling of the building began.

Restoring the interior of the Capitol to its original configuration has created new space in the offices and halls. Ceilings that had been lowered to conceal mechanical equipment or to add mezzanine offices have been restored to their original height. Walls were stripped and new wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and a fire-safety sprinkler system have been installed. Wooden braces and beams have been replaced, when possible, with metal, and plaster decorative moldings have been repaired. The many cast-iron columns were sandblasted, and everything has been repainted in the original colors.

Photo of the capitol build being built

State funding covered construction costs, associated fees, moving expenses, and limited funding for new furnishings. A Capitol Fund Drive is paying for historical furnishings and expenses necessary to restore significant areas to their original appearance.

The Texas Senate and House met for their regular 1995 session in the newly restored and renovated Capitol. The Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of the Senate, and other Senate staff members moved back in the Capitol on August 29, 1994. The Speaker of the House and the Chief Clerk's offices returned to the Capitol on December 9, 1994.

The Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986 for its "significant contribution to American history." With the restoration and preservation of the Capitol and the addition of the Extension, the Texas Legislature has a larger and more convenient new home with a future as outstanding as its past.

Information provided courtesy of Capitol Information and Guide Service