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Visiting the Texas Capitol Building in Austin

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Building of Texas State Capitol, Texas.
Sungjin KimCollection:Moment
With 22 acres of beautifully landscaped lawns, 17 monuments, and stunning historical buildings, a visit to the Texas Capitol in downtown Austin offers an exciting glimpse into Texas history and politics. The Visitors Center offers an array of exhibits and a gift shop, and the Capitol building itself displays stunning period architecture and the inner-workings of the Texas legislature. The Capitol grounds are a beautiful place to enjoy a picnic or long stroll. Here is everything you need to know about visiting the Texas Capitol.

Location:
The Capitol Visitors Center is located at 112 East 11th Street.

Hours:
The Capitol building is open:
Monday-Friday: 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 9:00 am - 8:00 p.m.

The Capitol Visitors Center is open:
Monday- Saturday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: Noon - 5:00 p.m.

History of the Texas Capitol
The Texas Capitol building as we know it today wasn’t the first one. The state’s very first Capitol building was built on a hilltop near Congress Avenue. The next building, located at Capitol Square, was completed in 1853 but burnt down in 1881.

A nation-wide design contest was held to determine who would build the next (and current) Capitol building. Architect Elijah E. Myers, who built the Capitols of Michigan and Colorado, won with a Renaissance Revival style. However, construction was held up for two years over a debate as to whether the exterior should be built from granite or limestone. It was eventually decided that it would be built of “sunset red" granite from Marble Falls, Texas.

After seven years, $3,744,600 of expenses, and over 1,000 workers, building was completed in 1888. It opened publicly on San Jacinto Day (April 21), at 310 feet tall. During the dedication, Temple Houston, son of Sam Houston, had this to say about the structure: "This building fires the heart and excites reflections in the minds of all... the architecture of a civilization is its most enduring feature, and by this structure shall Texas transmit herself to posterity..."

In 1983, a fire almost destroyed the building. The State Preservation Board was then formed to help preserve, maintain, and restore the Capitol and its grounds. In 1990, a project began to expand the building, and by 1993, 667,000 square feet had been added. Over the years, many more improvements and renovations have been made to the Capitol complex.

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