Furnishing the Texas State Capitol
BONNIE ANN CAMPBELL*
There was rejoicing written on the face of every legis-
lator last night, and there was cause for such rejoic-
ing; for it was the event of a life-time to be allowed the
privilege of participating as a legislator in the chris-
tening of the grandest state house in the union ...
The empire state last night had placed upon it the
everlasting seal of state unity.1
GREAT FANFARE ACCOMPANIED THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE NEWLY
completed Capitol in May, 1888. Contemporary newspaper ac-
counts detailed the celebratory events-fireworks, drill exercises, a pa-
rade, and a grand ball. Glowing reports abounded, remarking upon
the grandeur and magnificence of the structure, "its vast proportions,
beautiful finish and skilled and artistic workmanship." No mention was
made however, of the interior furnishings-the draperies, carpeting,
and furniture. This was not due to oversight or lack of interest in such
details (indeed, many paragraphs were devoted merely to describing
the attire of various socialites at the ball). Interior descriptions were
lacking for quite a simple reason-no new interior furnishings were yet
in place to describe.!
* Bonnime Ann Campbell is the curator of the Texas Capitol, under the direction of the State
Preservation Board. Campbell was previously a curator at the California Capitol. The author
extends sincere appreciation and thanks to William Elton Green, capitol historian, for his re-
search, generous assistance, and advice in the preparation of this paper. She would also like to
thank Sharon Darling, author of Chicago Furniture. Art, Craft and Industry, for sharing her ex-
tensive research notes, which are on file at the Chicago Historical Society.
' Austin Daily Statesman, May i i, 1888.
2Ibid., Mar. 1, i 888. Fortunately, the House of Representatives chamber, where the formal
ceremonies occurred on May io, 1888, was not left barren. A resolution introduced by Repre-
sentative William M. Skinner on May 1i thanked Gus Wilke (Capitol contractor) for moving
the old House of Representatives chamber furniture from the temporary capitol into the new
chamber at his own expense. Journal of the House of Representatives of the Twentieth Legislature,
Extra Session, Begun and Held at Austin, Texas, Aprild 6, r888 (Austin: Hutchings Printing House,
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 February 12, 2016.