Cornerstone Laid at State Capitol, 1833

The Capitol circa 1861. Image from the State ArchivesOn July 4, 1833, builders laid the cornerstone of the State Capitol on Union Square. The ceremony officially kicked off construction that would last for seven years and cost $532,000, a massive sum for the era. The Capitol that stands today was not the first in Raleigh. The original Capitol building, completed in 1794, burned in 1831.

Several architects contributed to the neoclassical design of the current building, including Ithiel Town, Alexander Jackson Davis, William Nichols Jr. and William Strickland. Scottish-born David Paton ultimately supervised much of the construction, though he was dismissed before the project was completed. The exterior walls are built of granite quarried in southeastern Raleigh and hauled to the site on the horse-drawn Experimental Railroad, the state’s first railway.

The Capitol housed all of North Carolina’s state government until 1888, when the Supreme Court Building, now the Labor Building, was completed across Edenton Street. The General Assembly left the Capitol and moved into the State Legislative Building in 1963.

The building became a National Historic Landmark in 1973. The Capitol is now one of 27 state historic sites and is open to the public for tours.

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