The Iowa State Capitol, commonly called the Iowa Statehouse, is in Iowa’s capital city, Des Moines. As the seat of the Iowa General Assembly, the building houses the Iowa Senate, Iowa House of Representatives, the Office of the Governor, and the Offices of the Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer, and Secretary of State. The building also includes a chamber for the Iowa Supreme Court, although court activities usually take place in the neighboring Iowa Supreme Court building. The building was constructed between 1871 and 1886.
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A three-story brick building served as a temporary Capitol and was in use for 30 years, until destroyed by fires: in the meantime, the permanent Capitol was being planned and built. In 1870, the General Assembly established a Capitol commission including local businessman and politician Peter A. Dey to employ an architect, choose a plan for a building (not to cost more than $1.5 million), and proceed with the work, but only by using funds available without increasing the tax rate. John C. Cochrane and Alfred H. Piquenard were designated as architects, and a cornerstone was laid on November 23, 1871. However, much of the original stone deteriorated through waterlogging and severe weather, and had to be replaced. The cornerstone was relaid on September 29, 1873.
The beauty, dignity, and arrangement of the interior become apparent as a visitor stands under the dome of the first floor. Broad, lofty corridors extend west, north, and south. Walls are highly decorated. The grand staircase is to the east. Suites opening from the south corridor are those of the governor, auditor of state, and treasurer of state. The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals office are to the north; the secretary of state’s suite is to the west. The grand staircase ascends to a landing and divides north and south to bring visitors to the floor above, where the House of Representatives is on the north, the Senate on the south, and the law library on the west.
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Extending the full width of the east wall over the staircase is the great mural painting, “Westward,” an idealized representation of the coming of the people who made Iowa. This was completed as part of the 1904 decoration.
Iowa Profile — State Library of Iowa