CAPITOL FACTS

Architect – Elijah E. Myers. Myers also designed the Texas and Colorado State Capitols.

Architectural Style – Renaissance Revival or Classical Revival.

Building Materials – Bricks, Sandstone, and Iron.

Height — 267 feet from the ground to the tip of the finial on the top of the dome.

Length — 420 feet, 2 inches.

Width — 273 feet, 11 inches.

Perimeter — 1,520 feet.

Area — 1 and 1/6 acres.

Construction Period — 1872-1878. The building was dedicated on January 1, 1879.

Restoration Period — 1989-1992. The building was rededicated on November 19, 1992.

Renewal Period – 2014-present. Learn more about our ongoing restoration efforts.


Did you know . . .

Elijah E. Myers, architect of the present Michigan, Texas, and Colorado State Capitols.
Image Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan





    . . . that Michigan has had three capitol buildings and two capital cities? Our first capitol, a brick building, was located in Detroit. Our second capitol, a small wooden structure, was located in downtown Lansing.


Our first capitol was actually built to be a courthouse for the Michigan Territory. It opened in 1828.
Image Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan




Our second capitol was built very quickly in the fall of 1847, after the legislature voted to move the capital to Lansing.
Image Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan



    . . . that the Capitol was originally lit using gas? Some of the original gas chandeliers, including our famous “Michigan chandeliers,” are still used today!

The Capitol’s Michigan chandeliers feature an elk that rests his front hoof on a brass shield. The shield bears the word “Tuebor,” which means “I will defend.” Both the elk and the shield are from the Michigan coat of arms.
Image Courtesy of David Marvin



    . . . that the Capitol dome was once lit using 736 light bulbs? The lightbulbs were fastened onto long vertical wires that were secured to the dome. Local Lansing residents called it the “bird cage.”


Electricians worked for almost 30 years to wire Michigan’s Capitol for electricity.
Image Courtesy of the Michigan State Capitol Archive, Lawler Collection



    . . . that the Capitol’s door knobs and hinges feature Michigan’s coat of arms? The hinges and door knobs that we have today are copies, or replicas, of the original hardware.


The next time you visit the Capitol, be sure to feel a door hinge or a door knob. They have a very interesting texture!
Image Courtesy of David Marvin



    . . . that the Capitol’s rotunda has a glass floor? The floor contains 976 pieces of glass, some of which are original!


When viewed from above, the Capitol’s glass floor appears to form a bowl, though the floor really is flat. The bowl is what’s called an optical illusion, or a trick on your eyes.
Image Courtesy of David Marvin



    . . . that there are stars in the Capitol’s dome? The stars, which are crafted from platinum and gold leaf, represent Michigan’s unlimited future.


Even though they look tiny from below, the stars in the Capitol’s dome are about the size of a human hand!
Image Courtesy of David Marvin



    . . . that there are fossils in our floors? The black tiles in the Capitol’s floors are limestone, filled with the fossils of marine animals and snails. They are about 475 million years old!


The fossils in the black tiles are called Maclurites.
Image Courtesy of David Marvin



    . . . that the Governor of Michigan has two official offices? One office is in the Capitol, the other is in the George W. Romney building.


Today the Governor spends most of his time in Lansing in the Romney building. The Governor only uses his Capitol office for special events, like bill signing ceremonies or press conferences.
Image Courtesy of David Marvin



    . . . that the Capitol contains 50 portraits? The Capitol’s portrait collection includes portraits of Michigan territorial and state governors, United States senators, Michigan’s only president, and other important historical figures.


Governor John Swainson was only 37 years old when he completed his one term as governor (1961-1962). Tradition tells us that his portrait was painted to appear unfinished, because he felt his career was still unfinished!
Image Courtesy of Tom Gennara



    . . . that the Capitol contains 9 acres, or 9 football fields, of hand-painted art? Our Capitol is considered one of the best examples of Victorian decorative paint in the entire country!


This traditional art motif, called the Green Man, is found on and in buildings all over the world. You can find him in the Capitol on the underside of the rotunda balconies.
Image Courtesy of David Marvin



    . . . that the Capitol has over 200 rooms? Some rooms, like the House and Senate Chambers, are very large, whereas other rooms are only large enough to accommodate one person and his or her desk.


The Michigan Senate named this room in honor of Elijah E. Myers, the architect of the Michigan State Capitol.
Image Courtesy of Dietrich Floeter



    . . . that the Capitol once housed all of Michigan’s government offices? Today only the Michigan House of Representatives, the Michigan Senate, and the Governor of Michigan maintain chambers and offices in the Capitol.


A rare image of a ground floor Capitol office used by employees of the Auditor General. This photograph, taken around 1900, shows that the Capitol’s workforce was slowly becoming more diverse.
Image Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan



    . . . that only one man, Austin Blair, has ever been honored with his own statue on Capitol Square? Austin Blair served as Michigan’s governor during the American Civil War.


The Capitol’s statue of Austin Blair, sculpted by Edward Clark Potter of Massachusetts, was unveiled in a grand ceremony on October 12, 1898.
Image Courtesy of the Michigan State Capitol Archive, Lawler Collection



    . . . that the flower beds in front of the Capitol are planted to look like carpeting? Carpet beds, as they were called, were very popular in the late 1800s when the Capitol was constructed.


It takes volunteers only a few hours to plant these beautiful flower beds!
Image Courtesy of Barbra Thumudo