In 1826 the Capitol was moved to Jefferson City in order to be centrally located within the state. The other requirement was to locate on a river to make travel to and from the Capitol easier. It's hard to imagine, but there were only rough trails and very few roads to follow and it could take Legislators and Judges weeks to get to the Capitol. As you can well imagine, winter travel was particularly rough. The Capitol building was built to accommodate living quarters for the Governor with two large rooms with a large fireplace in each room. The first floor room was for the Representatives and the second floor was for the Senators. Its total cost was $18,373 dollars. In 1837 an unattended fireplace started a fire, which totally destroyed the building. In just 17 years, Missouri had four different Capitols.
By 1840 the new Capitol was completed. It had a basement and two stories as well as a dome. It was 85 feet by 192 feet and was 130 feet high to the top of the dome. At the time of its completion it was reputed to be one of the three most beautiful buildings in America. Its cost was $350,000 dollars. In 1888 two wings were added which measured 76 feet by 109 feet and the dome was increased to 185 feet high. The additional cost was $220,000 dollars. It burned in 1911 and the present Capitol building was erected in its place.
One of the tragic things about Missouri losing two Capitol buildings to fire was the loss of records and pictures from the early days. Jane and I are attempting to get copies of photos of all the Representatives and Senators that have served McDonald County and display them in the County Museum. I have been able to get the names and background information on all of them and now it's just a matter of chasing down family photos of some of the early lawmakers. The State Archives have done much of the legwork for me and we will soon be able to complete our display.
In 1917 a capitol Commission was formed to decorate the building. The paintings, furniture, carvings, and grounds work that they were responsible for endure to this day and make our Capitol one of the most beautiful in the country. My Legislative Assistant, Elaine Meller, can schedule tours of the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Governor's Mansion and even the Old Prison. Hundreds of school children from Newton and McDonald County visit every year and it's always the high point of our week when they come. We've hosted church groups, scouts, ball teams and home schoolers as well and we look forward to many more in the future.
Hope to see you all soon.