Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Austin State Capitol

The Austin State Capitol was designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers. It was constructed from 1882 to 1888 under the direction of civil engineer Reuben Lindsay Walker. A $75 million underground extension was completed in 1993. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

The Texas State Capitol is 302.64 feet tall, making it the sixth tallest state capitol and one of several taller than the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. In 1931, the City of Austin enacted a local ordinance limiting the height of new buildings to a maximum of 200 feet, aiming to preserve the visual preeminence of the capitol. From that time until the early 1960s, only the University of Texas Main Building Tower was built higher than the limit, but in 1962 developers announced a new 261-foot (80 m) high-rise residential building to be built adjacent to the capitol, called the Westgate Tower. Governor Price Daniel voiced his opposition to the proposed tower, and State Representative Henry Grover of Houston introducing a bill to condemn the property, which was defeated in the Texas House of Representatives by only two votes. The Westgate was eventually completed in 1966.

Pam and I sat back to back on the lawn so I could do a sketch of the capitol. There are 7 Confederate themed statues on the lawn of the capitol. After a rally by white nationalists turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia, Confederate monuments and markers across the country have drawn increased scrutiny. The process of changing the landscape of the Capitol grounds isn’t an easy one. While the Preservation Board is in charge of the Capitol grounds, it often takes new state laws, along with years of waiting, to spur them into action. The board currently has no instructions or processes in its administrative code that address the removal of any items from Capitol grounds. That’s prompted some to push for state lawmakers to address the issue. Things move very slowly in the South. It could take many years for lawmakers to pass legislation to get the preservation board to make changes to the capitol landscape. Who wants change? Charlotesville, Virginia

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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