Widely considered as one of the most distinguished state capitol buildings in the United States, the Texas State Capitol in Austin was listed in 1970 on the National Register of Historic Places. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Spaces within the State Capitol were identified based on their architectural and historical significance in the 1990's during the restoration of the building. These spaces were returned back to their 1888-1915 appearance by preservationists, and include reproduction and original furniture, decorative elements, and artwork. The State Capitol building's grandeur is showcased through these significant spaces. These spaces, however, still remain functional for the current state government.

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Austin was established as the capital of the Republic of Texas in 1839. The Capitol started out as a log cabin containing two large rooms and several smaller meeting rooms. A stockade fence surrounded the building to protect it from Indian raids. Three million acres were authorized by the Constitution of 1876 to create a new Capitol in the Texas Panhandle. A nation-wide contest was announced in 1880 for the new Capitol design. The winner was Elijah E. Myers, an architect from Detroit. The new Texas State Capitol was officially dedicated on May 16 in 1888, during which Congress Avenue was lined with crowds.

The Visitors Center of the Texas State Capitol is located in a building that dates back to 1856-1857. The castle-like building is three stories and is the state's oldest building containing state offices. The Capitol Grounds surround the Texas Capitol and span around twenty-two acres. The historic South Grounds were restored in 1955-1956 to return them back to their 1888-1915 park-like appearance. The restoration also included vital updates such as accessible walkways, lighting, water-conserving irrigation, and fire protection.

The Texas State Capitol offers free guided tours that lead visitors through the Capitol's key areas, as well as provide information about the building, the Texas legislature, and the history of the state. Tours begin in the South Foyer, outside the tour office, and usually depart ever thirty to forty-five minutes. Each tour typically last about thirty minutes. Tours in a language other than English may be available if requested in advance.

Themed tours are also available at different times of the year. One such tour is the Women in Texas History tour that highlights women's contributions in the state. Texas-sized heroes involved in the 1836 fight for independence are featured in the Heroes of the Texas Revolution tour. October brings about the Rest in Peace tour, featuring haunting tales and urban myths of the Capitol. A Holiday Tour is offered during the first three weeks in December, showcasing the architecture that was the inspiration behind the annual Capitol Ornament, as well the different holiday traditions of the state's ethnic cultures. The artwork of Influential artists of Texas are the focus of the Early Texas Artists in the Capitol tour. These works of art are displayed throughout the Capitol building.

112 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas, website, Phone: 512-463-4630

Back to: Austin, Texas

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