Honor for State’s Cherished Capitol Building

The State Capitol circa 1908. Image from the State Archives

On November 6, 1973, the State Capitol became a National Historic Landmark. The designation by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior is reserved for nationally significant historic places that possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting American history. There are fewer than 2,500 of them across the country.

The Capitol that stands today was not the first in Raleigh. That building was completed in 1794 and burned in 1831. The cornerstone of the present State Capitol was laid at the site of the former State House in 1833. The exterior walls are built of gneiss, a type of granite quarried in southeastern Raleigh and hauled to the site on the horse-drawn Experimental Railroad, the state’s first railway.

Completed in 1840, the Capitol is one of the finest and best-preserved examples of a major civic building in the Greek Revival style of architecture. It housed all of North Carolina’s state government until 1888, when the Supreme Court Building (now the Labor Building) was completed across Edenton Street. The General Assembly left the Capitol and moved into the State Legislative Building in 1963.

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