Utah’s Capitol building is strategically positioned on a hill overlooking the downtown. Salt Lake City is an elegant architectural masterpiece. This building is set over 40 acres and has beautifully maintained, well-sculpted lawns, flowerbeds, trees, and shrubs. Yoshino cherry trees from the south steps can be viewed. From the front steps, a spectacular view of the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains can be seen and below the Salt Lake City.
This building the Capitol building was given by The City Council of Salt Lake with a resolution approval on March 1, 1988. This property was donated to the territorial government. The need aroused as the smaller buildings became insufficient and the businessmen and local leaders asked for a new capitol building. Several people requested around 20 acres of land to the Salt Lake City to donate in the Arsenal Hill area, and this was then responded.
A “Capitol Commission” was developed to review the construction and design process for the new building. Elijah E Myers was selected by the commission to design the Utah’s Capitol building. He was the person who also designed the Texas, Michigan and Colorado State Capitols. The plans completed by 1891 and it was rejected ultimately as it was estimated to cost $1 million.
The Capitol building plans were delayed by the Enabling Act approval that permitted Utahans to start their plans for statehood. Utah was granted on 4 January 1896, its statehood and the Salt Lake City, as well as the County Building, was used for the new state as a capitol building.
There was no capitol even by 1909 constructed, and Governor William Spry recognized this. He noticed that Utah was one of the very few states that had no capitol building and so he sent a proposal asking for a new commission to be created to the state legislature asking them to oversee the capitol construction. In that year the Commission made efforts and created to acquire funding for construction. However, an appropriation bill was produced, and it failed to acquire popular vote. Funding options came as bonds and loans as well. In 1910 the state constitution amended and permitted bonding for the capitol building and by the year 1911, a bill for $1,305,000 in bonds was presented to the state legislature.
This bill passed both houses and the amount was decreased to $1 million and received signature into law by the governor in spring 1911. Funds were boosted when in 1909 Edward Henry Harriman, the Union Pacific Railroad President died and his widow paid an inheritance tax of five percent to the Utah state. Union Pacific helped to construct the Transcontinental Railroad in Utah and Harriman invested in Salt Lake City’s system of electric trolley $3.5 million. These investments were within the state, and Mrs. Harriman paid $798,456 to the state treasurer as required by law on March 1, 1911.
After securing the funds, the commission started the design process for the grounds and building. The landscaping and site plan designs were chosen to be done by Olmsted Brothers of Massachusetts. Several members researched the site on Capitol Hill and expressed concerns as it had a steep grading hillside.
A three-person committee in December 1911 was organized to consider this location for Capitol building and one such site considered was on the property on Fort Douglas, near the Utah University. Even then, others proposed the downtown Salt Lake City building near the County and City building. Eventually, it was decided to construct on the site Capitol Hill and to acquire the enveloping property for the campus. Once the demand for the properties came to be known, several owners demanded exorbitant prices. However, even though there were concerns, the work continued, and the building design started taking shape.
The commission held a design competition, a common practice of that era. The program was created for competition with design requirement such as square footage, the number of floors and stipulation keeping the cost below $2 million. It received approval on August 30, 1911, and this information was sent to architectural companies. The compensation was not well received and many contenders withdrew from the competition reducing to eight firms. The designs finally for the building were due on 12 January 1912 and as the designs were submitted, many times the commission discussed the selections and some architects made presentations as well.
After two months the list of designs was reduced by the commission to just two, Richard K.A. Kletting and Young & Sons, both of Salt Lake City. On March 13, 1912, the Commission selected Richard Kletting’s design with a four to three votes. On getting appointed as Capitol architect, he went to many capitals in the eastern U. S, including the Kentucky State Capitol and it inspired his final designs. The working plans initially for the building was due by 15 July 1912.
At the 1914 summer end the basement, exterior walls, and second floor were close to completion. Columns were installed, and the dome work progressed, covering it in Utah copper. But, as 1914 ended, work did not show much progress, and when the legislature met the next year, it did so in the Salt Lake City and County Building, until February 11, 1915, and the session was moved into the new capitol.
Later, it took over a year to finish the building sufficiently for the executive and judicial officers to accommodate. After the work was finished, the Capitol was dedicated publicly on October 9, 1916. The original construction cost was $2,739,538.00, and replacement cost estimated at $310,000,000l the capitol in 1978 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now, it is included in the Capitol Hill Historic District.
The Utah State Capitol building is filled with history, in Salt Lake City and its admirable artwork and beautiful architecture is top of the world. It is a neoclassical building featuring Corinthian style columns, built between 1912 and 1916. Here are some facts:
Liberty Bell Replica
The Liberty Bell originally is in Pennsylvania in the Independence Hall, but the beauty is that all other State Capitol buildings also have an imitation model of it. The bell was hung to invite lawmakers to meetings, and the bell later became a liberty symbol. The bell inscription reads “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land unto All the Inhabitants thereof.”
The interior columns and walls of the Capitol are made out of Georgia marble. There are 24 solid marble columns 26 ft tall weighing 5,000 pounds in each. The walls’ panels feature a distinct book cut panels, with four marble sheets having the same design and reflections.
The designs were intricate of the rotunda illustrating the early Utah settlers work, life and accomplishments such as the Liberty flag, construction of the railroad, dancing, seagulls safeguarding the crops of the pioneers’ from the crickets, the relationship with the Native Americans and the mining industry. The four corners support the rotunda was painted during the Great Depression by an unemployed artist, as a way to provide work for him. The paintings illustrated the history of early Utah.
Governor’s Public Office Furniture
In 1999, a tornado struck the Salt Lake valley and hit downtown Salt Lake and reached the Capitol Hill southeast corner, uprooting full mature 93 trees. This destruction was heartbreak and the fallen trees gained a new purpose such that it was turned into the desk of the Governors in his public office and the desk is made of Japanese Pagodas, Linden, and maple trees.
The House of Representatives Chamber
The Chamber of Utah’s 75 Representatives is decorated with significant artwork. The north and south walls have two murals painted by Utah artist David Koch depict important events in Utah’s history shaping the future of the state.
Use of Natural Light
The Capitol sets an illustration of using less electricity. The building design features more use of sunlight, giving way to natural light to enter its impressive and high-status hallways and rooms.
The Utah Capitol building is open Monday – Friday from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm and on holidays and weekends from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.