Did You Know? 1842.

When Old Capitol Was The New Capitol: 1841-1857.
Did You Know the audio version.

In 1842, when Old Capitol in Iowa City was first opened up for use by the Iowa Territorial Legislature, the grounds surrounding the building – what is, today, called the Pentacrest – was called Capitol Square.

Today, we’re so used to using the term, Old Capitol, we forget that, at one time, this beautiful iconic building that’s become the symbol of one great university was once the new capitol building of the new State of Iowa.

The original plan for Iowa City not only included a spacious green space around the capitol building, but also included a widened, one-mile avenue – called Iowa Avenue – heading directly east where it would meet with Governor Street. There, the plans called for the Governor’s Mansion to be built, allowing the state’s governor to live “just down the avenue” from the Iowa State House. Obviously, when the capital moved to Des Moines in 1857, that idea of a governor’s mansion went with it.

But as one Iowa City newspaper editor said at the time, “Let Des Moines have the politicians…we’ll take the teachers!”

It’s that point in 1857, when Capitol Square became University Square, and after the turn of the century, when four stately buildings were constructed there, the SUI students came up with the new name we all know today – The Pentacrest.


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