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The State Capitol is topped by a copper dome
Photo by Michael Zirkle Photography, courtesy of Raleigh Historic Development Commission
North Carolina's State Capitol is one of the Nation's most intact examples of a Greek Revival public building. Built of local stone, the building replaced the previous stuccoed-brick State House destroyed by fire in 1831. Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis of New York served as principal architects, while the supervising architect, David Paton from Scotland, is credited with much of the interior's design. The cornerstone of the building was laid July 4, 1833. To haul locally quarried granite to the building site, an experimental wooden-track railway was developed, using mule power to pull the cars. In the spring of 1840 the building was completed. The final cost exceeded $530,000--more than six times the state's 1840 revenue.

[photo] The State Capitol was completed in 1840
Photo courtesy of North Carolina Division of Archives and History

The Capitol is roughly cruciform in plan, three stories tall crowned by a copper dome. The interior features a central rotunda open from the ground floor to the top of the dome. The two other major rooms are the house and senate chambers, each two full stories in height. The building stands in the center of Capitol Square, largest of the five public squares established in Raleigh's original 1792 plan. Large trees and public monuments surrounding the building add to its air of permanence, formality and importance. The layout of Capitol Square dates from 1928, according to a plan designed by the Olmstead Brothers.

All branches of state government were housed in the Capitol until the Supreme Court moved into its own building in 1888. The General Assembly met in the Capitol until 1963, when it moved into the Legislative Building. Offices of the Governor and Secretary of State remain in the building. While several remodelings and additions to the building have been suggested over the years, actual changes have been minimal. Recent work has restored the original senate and house chambers. The North Carolina State Capitol is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark.

The North Carolina State Capitol, a National Historic Landmark, is located on Capitol Square in the heart of downtown Raleigh. The building is open Monday-Saturday from 9:00am to 5:00pm; closed Sundays and most major state holidays. Please call ahead to confirm hours of operation. Guided tours are offered Saturday at 11:00am and 2:00pm. The grounds are open at all times. Call 919-733-4994 or visit the capitol's website for further information. The North Carolina State Capitol has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

The North Carolina State Capitol is the subject of an online lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Park Service program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

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