Location Name: Ohio Statehouse (Columbus, Ohio)
Location Type: Government Building (State Capitol)
Year Completed: 1861
Architect(s): Henry Walter, Martin E. Thompson, Thomas Cole, Alexander Jackson Davis, Isiah Rogers, Nathan B. Kelley, William Russell West and J. O. Sawyer
The Ohio Statehouse was built to replace the temporary structure used when Columbus became the state capital in 1816. Today’s Statehouse is built on Capitol Square, a ten acre parcel donated by four prominent local landowners. A competition was held to acquire a design for the new capitol building. While architect Henry Walter won the competition, the Statehouse’s final design was mostly a blend of the work of Henry Walter, Martin E. Thompson, Thomas Cole, Alexander Jackson Davis, Isiah Rogers, Nathan B. Kelley, William Russell West and J. O. Sawyer. Construction began on 04 July 1839 as the cornerstone was laid.
The construction of the Statehouse was plagued with delay from the very beginning. Almost as soon as construction began, the legislation that made Columbus the state capital was set to expire. During the debate over possibly relocating the capital construction ceased. Open excavations were filled with earth and Capitol Square became open pasture for livestock for several years. Once that issue was solved, the foundations of the new building started to rise. Prison laborers from the Ohio Penitentiary were used to construct the ground floors. Workers from the construction trades protested the use of prison labor and construction was again put on hold until the new problem was worked out. Between these problems and several harsh winters and budget lapses, the building’s construction was to last over two decades.
In 1852 the building then being used as the state capital was destroyed in a fire. This helped to hurry construction of the new building and it opened to the public and Ohio General Assembly on 07 January 1857. With the business of the state going on in its halls, construction officially was complete in 1861. The new Capitol was designed in the Greek revival style and build of heavy load bearing walls of local Columbus limestone. The massive structure with a Doric column facade was topped by a 70-foot tall cupola; notable since most state capitols were topped by domes. The structure stands 158 feet tall from the ground to the tip of the cupola’s pinnacle. The final cost for construction was just over $1.3 million.
In 1899 construction began on the Judiciary Annex. Designed by Samuel Hanaford the addition was built with a Neo-classical exterior and a Beaux-Arts interior. At a cost of $375,000, the Judiciary Annex was completed in 1901. Once finished, the Annex became the new home of the Ohio Supreme Court. Its Grand Stair Hall is its defining feature. Built of brilliant white marble, with painted murals and a stained glass Great Seal of Ohio skylight, the Hall grabs the attention of any visitor to the complex.
Upon its completion the Statehouse held all state offices, government expansion has created the need for more space. Today the Statehouse is still the home of the Ohio General Assembly, as well as some ceremonial offices for officials such as the Governor. The Ohio Supreme Court moved to a new location in 1974 and was restored in the late 1980s. In 1993 the renovated Judiciary Annex became the Senate Building and many Senate offices are housed within it. In 1994 the open space between the Statehouse and the Senate Building were enclosed and became the Capitol Atrium. Most state offices are now located elsewhere but the Statehouse still stands in the center of Columbus as the heart of Ohio’s government.
The Ohio Statehouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was designate a National Historic Landmark in 1977.Sources