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Iowa History Daily: December 1 - A New Capitol in the New Capital

Iowa History Daily: On December 1, 1857, the seat of power in Iowa officially moved to Des Moines. At the Iowa Constitutional Convention earlier in the year, officials decided to relocate the capital of Iowa from Iowa City to the more centrally-located Des Moines.

Wilson Alexander Scott and Harrison Lyon donated a picturesque parcel of roughly ten-acres featuring a gently rising hill on the east bank of the Des Moines River. A new capitol building, eventually known as the Old Brick Capitol, quickly rose near the center of the parcel and served as Iowa’s Capitol for twenty-six years near the site of today’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The building burned to the ground in 1892.

A series of starts and stops, as well as a failed initial go at construction plagued the early work on the building familiar to Iowans today. Workers laid a cornerstone on September 28, 1873, and over the next decade the stone building adorned with elaborate columns, handsome cornices, and imposing capitals started to soar over Des Moines.

The building features limestone quarried from the Iowa landscape, as well as wari-colored granite cut from glacial boulders formerly nestled under Iowa’s prairies. The towering signature dome features tissue-paper thin sheets of pure 23-carat gold, and workers finally finished construction during the late 1870s. A two-year move from the Old Brick Capitol commenced, and the General Assembly first met in their new chambers in January of 1884 following the dedication of the building. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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