Old Capitol – The Icon of SUI. On July 4, 1840, Territorial Governor Robert Lucas came from Burlington to dedicate the cornerstone of the Stone Capitol. The date of the University’s founding is February 25, 1847, only two months after the beginning of Iowa statehood (December 28, 1846). In 1857, when the State Capitol finally moved to Des Moines, the State bequeathed Old Capitol to the University. Today, it’s become the Icon of the University of Iowa.
John F. Rague – Creator Of A Classic. In 1839, a $46,000 contract was let to the architect who designed the state capitol building in Springfield, Illinois. A friend of Lincoln’s, John F. Rague took the offer, designed our capitol, but left nine days after the cornerstone was laid. Come read the full story of this creative craftsman who ended up becoming Dubuque’s most renowned architect.
The Old Capitol Gem That Got Away. On occasion, a great treasure will appear on-line and, as it is in life, sometimes you win – and sometimes you lose. Allow me to cry in my beer and tell you about a rare letter concerning the construction of the Old Stone Capitol in Iowa City that slipped through my fingers. Alas, come share my sorrow.
Jesse Williams – Rescuing Iowa’s New Capitol – 1841. It’s 1841, and the construction of Iowa Territory’s new capitol is not going well. Funding is very limited, and the building’s architect walked out after nine days on the job. Iowa’s Territorial Agent – Jesse Williams – has been given the job of coming up with some creative fund-raising. Here’s his letter to a wealthy businessman in Dubuque that raise some big bucks! But, at what cost?
When Old Capitol Was The New Capitol: 1841-1857. 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. Join us for a look back to the days when Old Cap was the New Cap sitting on Capitol Square.
Old Capitol’s Stairway To Heaven. While Iowa’s new capitol building opened for business in 1842, it took another seven years before the second floor was fully accessible. In 1849, a beautiful reverse-spiral staircase was finally completed and with it the most iconic building in Iowa gained not just a flight of stairs but an architectural classic that still amazes visitors today.
1857 – A Capitol Moving Day. From day one of statehood in 1846, there were those who wanted to see Iowa’s capital moved westward. Finally, in 1857, a deal was cut. The capitol would go to Des Moines while the university was exclusively secured for Iowa City. As one newspaper writer quipped, “Des Moines can have the politicians, we’ll take the professors!” Come read this “moving” story.
Meet Rose – Old Capitol’s 1876 Grand Steinway. In 1878, Frederick & Matilda Schmieg purchased a beautiful Steinway Concert Grand Piano built in 1876 for their home in Burlington, Iowa. 130 years later, Rose, as this rosewood grand piano is affectionately called, found a new home making beautiful music in the Senate Chamber of Old Capitol in Iowa City.
Penny Postcards – Old Capitol & Iowa Avenue. By 1900, penny postcards had become the primary way to communicate any message. And as the expression goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s a look at Iowa City through a collection of penny postcards postmarked during the first twenty years of the 20th century – starting first with Old Capitol and Iowa Avenue.
From University Square To The Pentacrest. The State University of Iowa started small with a central campus (1847-1874) made up of only four buildings. By the turn-of-the-century, the number was up to twelve, but here’s the story of how SUI went from a handful of eclectic buildings to the iconic Pentacrest we all know and love today.
Old Stone Capitol Remembers – Abraham, Martin, & John. Since it’s inception in 1841, the Old Stone Capitol has been a gathering place for Iowa Citians. Revisit three iconic moments in American history: Lincoln (1865), Kennedy (1963), and King (1968) via photographs taken by iconic Iowa City photographers, Issac Wetherby and Fred Kent.
America’s Bicentennial – Restoring Old Capitol. By 1970, Old Capitol in Iowa City was starting to show its wear. As part of America’s celebration of our 200th Anniversary, the University of Iowa began a six-year restoration project that reworked this iconic building from the inside out – transitioning Old Capitol from a university administration building into a living history museum.
Weber’s Fun Facts – The Old Stone Capitol. In 1976, the Iowa City Lion’s Club published Irving Weber’s Iowa City: 102 short historical stories that had originally been published by the Iowa City Press Citizen. Here is the first article from Weber’s first book, written in a quiz format, focusing on the most prominent landmark in Iowa City.
Iowa City – A July 4th Celebration. July 4th has a special place in Iowa City history. On July 4, 2020, I added this little tidbit to Our Iowa Heritage.
Inside Old Capitol – Your Guided Tour. Come with us inside the Old Stone Capitol Museum, courtesy of the University of Iowa Pentacrest Museums. Enjoy the show.
Moving On Up – The Old Capitol Dome. Not many have taken the narrow stairs to the top of Old Capitol. Here, we give you an overview of the beautiful golden dome and the historic bell(s) that have tolled over the years. You’ll learn as well about the art of regilding – a process done several times on this iconic dome.
Remembering The Old Stone Capitol. We can’t close without one final salute to the cornerstone of Our Iowa Heritage – The Old Stone Capitol in Iowa City.