The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 228
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Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly
character of an age, and exert a prominent influence over the moral
and intellectual habits of a people."' Perhaps such perceptions at least
touched the minds of Texas officials at mid-century, when they turned
their thoughts to the construction of the first permanent Capitol in
Austin. This building replaced a temporary one-story wooden struc-
ture erected in 1839.-"
The opportunity to construct an impressive Capitol came with the
cession of lands that extended west and north of the present state
boundary lines. As compensation for these lands, the federal govern-
ment awarded the state of Texas $10,000ooo,ooo000, plus interest. Early in
1852 the legislature appropriated $1ioo,ooo from this sum for a new
capitol, along with $25,000 for its furnishings.
Commissioners appointed to oversee the construction invited plans
from interested builders." For whatever reasons, however, they evi-
dently were not satisfied with the submissions. According to the Texas
Republican (Marshall), they "rejected all the plans submitted, borowing
(?) [sic] enough from each to enable them to draft one of their own."
The commissioners contracted the stonework to O. J. Nichols and the
woodwork to Abner H. Cook; the building under their purview was oc-
cupied in 1853, although still incomplete.'
Located on "Capitol Square," a four-block eminence reserved for the
principal state governmental structure in the original plan (1840) of
Austin (fig. i), the edifice was an impressive work in Greek Revival
3"Architecture in the United States," North American Review, LVIII (Apr, 1844), 436.
For an early description of the wooden Capitol see Francis Moore, Jr., Map and Descriptzon.
(Philadelphia. H. Tanner, Junr., 1840), 130.
The various capitols of Texas have been surveyed min several publications, including. Robert
C Cotner, The Texas State Capitol (Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968), Sara Clark, The Capitols of
Texas- A Visual History (Austin. Encmino Press, 1975); Seymour V. Connor et al., Capitols of Texas
(Waco: Texian Press, 1970o), Texas Legislative Council, The Texas Capitol. Symbol of Accomplish-
ment (4th ed.; Austin Texas Legislative Council, 1986) See also Henry-Russell Hitchcock and
William Seale, Temples of Democracy The State Captols of the USA (New York: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, 1976), 182-188, and Willard B Robinson, Texas Pubhlic Buildizngs of the Nineteenth
Century (Austin. University of Texas Press for Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1974), 27,
5August Watkins Harris, Minor and Major Manszons and Their Companions in Early Austin. A
Sequel (Austin- August Watkins Harris, 1958), n.p Harris provides conjectural plans for this
"For several centuries architectural competitions had been a common means of selecting ar-
chitects of important public buildings The architect of the dome of the Florence Cathedral,
Fehppo Brunelleschi, for instance, was selected through competition Similarly, the design by
William Thornton for the United States Capitol was selected by a committee from a group of
plans submitted by several architects Eventually throughout the United States countless
church and civic-building architects were selected by this means.
7Texas Repubhlican (Marshall), Apr. 17, 1852 No reasons for their action were given, although
the reporter noted that one was rejected because "1t was too good .. " Ostensibly, the esti-
mated cost of the buildings would have been greater than the approp nation. John Brandon, a
builder, is sometimes given credit for the final design of the structure.
"Ibid., June 16, 1855.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/266/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.