Illinois State Capitol
The Illinois State Capitol, located in Springfield, Illinois, is the capitol and seat of government of the U.S. state of Illinois. The current building is the sixth capitol to serve the state since its entry into the United States in 1818. The current capitol is in the architectural style of the French Renaissance. The capitol was designed by Cochrane and Garnsey, an architecture and design firm based in Chicago, Illinois. Ground was first broken for the new capitol on March 11, 1869, and it was completed twenty years later for a total cost of $4,500,000. The capitol dome is covered in zinc to provide a silver facade which does not weather. The interior of the dome features a plaster frieze painted to resemble bronze, which illustrates scenes from Illinois history, and stained glass windows (including a stained glass replica of the state seal in the oculus of the dome). The seal featured in the top of the dome is the seal used by Illinois prior to the American Civil War. It differs from the modern seal in that the phrase "State Sovereignty" is above the phrase "National Union." After the Civil War the legislature voted to reverse these phrases as they felt that National Union was the more important of these two concepts.

With a total ground height of 361 feet (110 m), the Illinois capitol is the tallest non-skyscraper capitol, even exceeding the height of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC. The only state capitols taller than it are the non-classical designs found in Florida, Louisiana and Nebraska, which opted for more modern buildings for their current capitols. The dome itself is 92.5 feet (28.2 m) wide, and is supported by solid bedrock, 25.5 feet (7.77 m) below the surface. It is the highest (though not the tallest) building in Sangamon County. The Hilton building is technically taller than the Capitol building, however it lies on lower ground, making the Capitol building higher. A city statute does not allow buildings to be built higher than the Capitol building. The building itself is shaped like a Latin cross aligned to the major points of the compass, and measures 379 feet (116 m) from the north end to the south end, and 268 feet (81.7 m) from the east end to the west end. The capitol occupies a nine acre plot of land which forms the capitol grounds. William Douglas Richardson served as one of the principal contractors for the construction of the capitol building, and Jacob Bunn, an in-law of W. D. Richardson, served as chairman of the capitol construction steering committee. When the capitol was constructed, several empty shafts were included for the future installation of elevators. The original water-operated elevators were installed in 1887 and often the subject of ridicule in local papers as they were deemed inadequate for a building with the stature and prominence of the State Capitol. It is unknown when the first electric elevators were installed, but the first mention of them occurs in 1939, when the legislature appropriated $30,000 for repair of the electric elevators.

Former capitols
The current Capitol of Illinois is the sixth such building in the history of the state. The first was located in Kaskaskia, Illinois, a city on the Mississippi River founded by the French in 1709. Kaskaskia had served as the territorial capital of Illinois since 1809, so it was deemed an appropriate location for the capital of the fledgling state. The first capitol building was rented by the state and was by all accounts a simple two-story building which the state leased for $4.00 a day. Wishing to site the capital in the state's interior, the first General Assembly petitioned Congress for a grant of suitable land. Congress offered, and the state accepted, a land parcel on the Kaskaskia River around eighty miles northeast of Kaskaskia. This location, which would be named Vandalia, Illinois, was selected in part with the hopes of encouraging settlers to move to other parts of the state which were still uninhabited. The state let its lease on the first capital in Kaskaskia expire, and the building burned in 1824. In 1820, with the completion of the new, or "Second", capitol, Vandalia, Illinois, became the capital of the state. (In 1881 this decision to move the capital became wise in hindsight, as Kaskaskia was destroyed by a sudden change in the course of the Mississippi River.) A third capitol was soon erected for a cost of $15,000. Soon after its erection, calls began to echo around the state to move the capitol to a location nearer the center of the state. A bill was introduced in 1833 calling for a statewide vote to determine a new location from a list of central choices including Alton, Jacksonville, Peoria, Springfield, Vandalia, and the state's actual geographic center. While Alton emerged the victor, the legislature determined the slim margin too small to be conclusive, and the vote was aborted. In 1836, a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln, along with other colleagues of his in the legal profession, began to push the notion of moving the capital to Springfield, Illinois. That summer the third capitol was demolished and replaced with the fourth capitol (built at a cost of $16,000) in an effort to keep the capital in Vandalia. Although the new brick structure was extravagant, the General Assembly ignored the gesture and sided with Lincoln, voting to move the capital to Springfield on February 25, 1837. On July 4, 1837, the first brick was laid for Illinois' fifth capitol. In 1853, the capitol was completed for a total sum of $260,000, almost twenty-times the cost of any such previous structure. The building was designed in the Greek Revival style from stone quarried six miles (10 km) from the site. For many years, it was the largest and most extravagant capitol of the western frontier of the United States. The fifth capitol is considered by many to be Lincoln's capitol as it was here that he argued cases before the Illinois Supreme Court, here that he served in the State Legislature, here that he first confronted Stephen Douglas, here where he delivered his famous " House Divided" speech, and here where he lay in state after his assassination on May 4, 1865. As Illinois prospered and experienced several booms in population, the fifth capitol became crowded, especially as a result of relocations after the Civil War. On February 24, 1867, the state voted to construct a new larger capitol. After breaking the ground for the sixth and current Capitol in 1868, the state recouped its costs in the fifth capitol by selling it to Sangamon County for $200,000. It served as the county court house until 1961 when the state again purchased the building and restored it to serve as a historic landmark, the Old State Capitol State Historic Site.

Building Activity

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