Friday, August 30, 2019

Building of the Capitol Timeline

Timeline of the Kansas State Capitol Building

1855--Kansas voters chose capitol site, Topeka wins, considerations that it is safer from border ruffians and it is a more central location.  CK Holiday, Saunders W. Johnson, Chet Thomas were among the chief proponents of Topeka.  Lawrence, Baldwin City, sac and Fox Agency, Emporia, Leavenworth, Minneola, Big Springs and Tecumseh also garnered votes.

1861--Ritchie block at the corner of 6th and Kansas; on the 3rd floor the Senate meets for three years.
(The Ritchie block, built by John Ritchie , Dr. Andrew Ritchie, Walter Oakley, and LC Willmarth burned in November of 1869, gave impetus for the first Volunteer Fire dept in Topeka in 1870.)

House of Representatives meets at the Crawford opera house, moves to the Congregational church at 7th and Harrison due to a roof leak. (Congregational Church was organized as a anti-slavery church)

1862--House of Representatives meets at the Gale Block
(Gale Block was built in 1859-60 by the Gale Brothers and was at 194-196 Kansas which is now 612-614 Kansas. 1869 it was rebuilt into Costa's Opera House and in the 1880s became the Crawford Opera House)

1862--Topeka Town Association donates 20 acres for Capitol site

1863--House of Representatives meets at the Methodist Church on Quincy between 4th and 5th streets ( organized in 1885, lots given by the Topeka Association )

1864-1869 Constitution Hall--Statehouse Row
The old Constitution Hall (what is the only remaining part of Statehouse Row) is incorporated into a new building with a new front.  The front of the building was 100 ft,with part of the building being 42 ft deep and part being 44 ft deep (due to the incorporation of existing building).
The first story has 8 rooms which include the Supreme Court and it's clerks, the State Auditor, Treasurer, and Secretary of State offices, law library and the miscellaneous library. Ceiling height was 14ft..
Second floor was the Governor, Attorney General and Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Legislative Halls.  Ceiling height was 12ft. 
Building was erected by Theo Mills, JG Gage, Loring Farnsworth and WL Gordon.
State leased for $1,500/yr. 

March 1866--State House Commission meets
Members include: Gov. Smuel J. Crawford, Secr. of State RA Barker, State Auditor John R Swallow, State Treasurer William Spriggs, Superintendent of Public Instruction Isaac Goodnow.
Hires WWH Lawrence as superintendent of construction
Hires John Haskell as architect to supervise ( E. Townsend Mix's design was supported by CK Holiday and the Democrats, Haskell's was supported by the Republicans)
Decide that the East Wing should be started first.

State House Commission likes limestone found near Manhattan but the site was not accessible by rail; and opts for sandstone from the banks of Deer Creek, Topeka.(near the Vinewood)

October 18th, 1866--Cornerstone Laid

Winter 1867--
Cracks appear in the sandstone.  Replacement limestone is chosen from the Junction City area.
New masonry contractor selected, Bogart and Babcock.

Winter1869--East Wing Completed (minus front stairs which are completed in 1873, and there were temporary stairs, walkways and privies--indoor plumbing was not part of the original plan)
Steam heat and gas lights.
Plaster work was done by the firm of Paul and Hopkins.
Cost estimated at $371,000.

March 1903--The Capitol is Completed.

Shawnee County Historical Society Bulletin Number 85; The Capital's Storied Capitol by Doug Wallace and Chris Meinhardt

Constitution Hall -Topeka Lithograph on Marker

This is a drawing of what Constitution Hall looked like at the time of the Constitutional Convention.  Hopefully, sometime this fall work will begin to return the front to this facade, if not this fall, it will begin in the spring.  Although through grants (from the NPS and KSHS) and private donations the facade will be done, the building lacks about $300,000 from completion at which point it will be open to the public. If you are interested or would like to become a friend and help this happen here is the website 

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