Capitol Celebrates 125th Year

By: Natalie Shepherd
By: Natalie Shepherd

Michigan's state capitol turns 125 this year, and Wednesday kicks off a year-long celebration to commemorate the building. Governor Jennifer Granholm and other political leaders met at the capitol to unveil a commemorative coin and sign a proclamation. As many as 100,000 visitors to the capitol this year will get the coin.

The current capitol is the third home to Michigan's government. The original capitol was Detroit. But this building has served as the longest home to the government. Its architectural structure has also served as an example to other states, such as Texas and Colorado. Both states modeled their capitol domes on Michigan's. The capitol dome stands for unity.

The capitol has been in its current condition since the early 1990's, after extensive renovations. Renovations Michigan's leaders say will keep the capitol around at least another 125 years.

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Designation Dates

  • National Historic Landmark, listed October 7, 1992
  • Marker, erected March 10, 1980
  • National Register, listed January 25, 1971
  • State Register, listed February 18, 1956

    Architect, Builder, or Designer(s)

  • Elijah E. Myers, architect

    Significant Date

  • 1879, building completed

    Significance Statement

    The Michigan State Capitol has served as Michigan's seat of state government since its completion in 1879. The Michigan capitol was the first of three state capitols designed by Elijah E. Myers in the 1870s and 1880s. Its successful completion established Myers' reputation as the premiere capitol-builder of the post-Civil War period, and secured his career as one of the country's most successful architects of public buildings. No architect was responsible for more state capitols than Myers, and no single architect had more influence on their design in the latter years of the nineteenth century. Myers was among the first to use the national capitol in Washington, D.C., as a model, and his design for Michigan would help establish the standard for state capitols for decades to come.

    The Michigan State Capitol reflected—and inspired—the national trend after the Civil War for monumental fireproof buildings, constructed to house state governments growing in size and complexity, as well as to serve as suitable repositories for mementoes of the war itself. The interior embellishment of the Michigan State Capitol, undertaken over a period of several years after the dedication and occupation of the building, involved the extensive use of decorative, or architectural painting. So skillful and elaborate were the techniques and patterns employed, and so effective their color palette, that the building, as now restored, ranks today as one of the best surviving displays in the United States of the Victorian painted decorative arts. An extensive historical restoration, begun in 1987 and completed in 1992, returned both the interior and exterior to their original appearances, while adapting the building for the future as Michigan's permanent state capitol.

    Source: http://www.michigan.gov (Michigan State Capitol Web site) contributed to this report.

    More Information
    Michigan State Historic Preservation Office
    Michigan Historical Center
    P.O. Box 30740

    702 W. Kalamazoo St.
    Lansing, MI 48909-8240


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