On The Road To Statehood – Celebrating 175 Years – 1841.

Butler’s Capitol: A new two-story wood-frame structure with a 60-foot front facing south toward Washington Street beginning some 32 feet east of Clinton Street. It was 30 feet deep and divided into separate meeting rooms for the 26-member House and 13-member Council upstairs, plus smaller committee rooms and several little offices at ground level. Built entirely of wood, it lacked plumbing, electricity, rest rooms and central heating as was typical of the era. Just months before the wood had been live timber which had been laboriously cut by hand into dimension lumber since no local saw mill was available

1841 – Walter Butler’s Capitol.

In 1841, the Iowa Territorial Legislature (meeting in Burlington until the new capitol building was ready) announced that they would be willing to meet in Iowa City for their winter session (1841) if Iowa City would offer them an adequate facility for free.

As soon as word reached Iowa City, Walter Butler not only volunteered to lead the charge, but he also went immediately to work, building a suitable meeting hall on his property, with the full intention of offering it to the Assembly at no charge, even though that decision ended up being a very costly one for him personally. By early fall, Butler had constructed a two-story frame building on the corner of Clinton and Washington Streets, and here the Legislature met in Iowa City for the first time in December of 1841.

For the record, the Legislature met in Butler’s Capitol for 54 daily sessions, from December 6, 1841 to February 18, 1842, passing 127 laws on such issues as roads, ferries, dams, private and municipal incorporation, and divorce. They appropriated $24,412 in funding, including $3 to the local justice of the peace, but not one penny to Walter for the use of his facility.


Click here to visit our 175th Statehood Anniversary page…

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