Pride of Texas: The State Capitol
WILLARD B. RoBINsoN*
HROUGHOUT THE WESTERN WORLD, PUBLIC BUILDINGS HAVE LONG
been viewed as reflections of the attainments of civilized societies.
An unknown Galveston newspaper reporter set the stage for the new
Texas State Capitol when he wrote in 1880, "The public buildings of a
state are its most pronounced features, and by them the character and
genius of the people are largely judged by outsiders."' Like so many
others, he sensed that architecture served as a barometer-the size,
opulence, and style of a building represented a scale of social values.
The most important functions of society were housed in the largest and
Americans have historically erected imposing statehouses that reflect
their esteem for democratic government. Representatives of Texas
government consistently dedicated their energies to the construction of
one of the finest statehouses in the world in the late nineteenth century.
Through its majestic form and monumental style, its furnishings, land-
scaping, and artwork, the Texas State Capitol (erected 1882-1888) re-
flected the pride of Texas citizens in the culture and government of
While buildings were considered reflections of cultural and political
values during the nineteenth century, they were also viewed as influ-
ences upon human attitudes. This disposition was represented by one
early nineteenth-century writer who opined that when objects of beauty
are placed "before the public.., the sure consequence will be, a refine-
ment of taste, an elevation of mental character ... ." 2 Another writer
observed that architecture "has been regarded as so direct a means of
inspiring the imagination, and creating sublime ideas in the mind, as to
be assigned . . . to a high place among those causes which affect the
* Willard B. Robinson is the Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Architecture at Texas Tech
' From the Houston Daily Post, printed in the Daily Democrat (Fort Worth), Dec. 4, 188o.
2"Architecture in the United States," American journal of Science and Arts, XVII (1829), log9.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/. Accessed April 19, 2014.