Today in Texas History – February 1

From the Annals of the Statehouse –  In 1882, Nimrod Norton and Joseph Lee ceremonially broke ground on the site of the present Texas Capitol Building.  Norton and Lee were the building commissioners in charge of overseeing construction.  A design competition resulted in eight architects submitting eleven different designs for the building.  In May 1881 the Capitol Board approved the design entered by Elijah E. Meyers of Detroit. The building commission then advertised for a contractor who would build the Capitol in exchange for the three million acres of public land. There were only two bidders and the BC chose Mathias Schnell of Rock Island, Illinois. Schnell ultimately assigned the contract to Taylor, Babcock and Company, a Chicago firm.  Abner Taylor became the chief contractor but subcontracted the work to Gustav Wilke also of Chicago.  The  Capitol was intended to be constructed from Texas limestone but impurities in the rock made it impractical.  The design was changed – made less ornate – and the main building material was changed to red granite from Marble Mountain near Marble Falls.  The Renaissance Revival structure was completed in about six years for a cost of $3.75 million.

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