Heritage, Volume 9, Number 3, Summer 1991 Page: 8
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Texas Capitol Preservation and
Editor's Note: The following article has been
compiled from the Capitol Master Plan and
Historic Structures Report, 12 Dec. 89 and
the Texas Capitol Preservation and Extension
C ompleted in 1888 as the winning
design from a national competition,
the Texas Capitol is widely
recognized as one of the nation's most
distinguished state capitols. It has remained
for over a century a significant architectural
achievement, a cherished cultural
legacy, a fitting manifestation of the
legendary Texas spirit and a saga of construction
and financing unequaled in U.S.
history. The vision of the Texas Capitol
was a grand one, truly bold and encompassing.
When it opened in 1888, the building
clearly satisfied the state's longing for symbolic
expression, but it was also capable of
supporting the governmental functions
required of it. Indeed, the balance of these
two forces-symbolism and functionwas
one of the Capitol's greatest achievements.
It was a balance, however, destined not
to endure. Whereas the symbolism would
remain fresh as long as the great volumes of
space were there to be experienced, the
functional problems that arose soon after
the Capitol was completed would require
much deeper, more thorough analysis and
Through the years the solutions to
these problems developed in piecemeal
fashion, resulting in a building that was not
only inefficient but also structurally unsound,
a place overcrowded with people
and automobiles, haunted by the very real
danger of fire.
In February, 1983, that danger became
a reality. The fire in the East Wing brought
attention to the many deficiencies that
exist in the Capitol's mechanical and
safety systems. As a result of the expense of
restoration and the increased awareness of
the unique architectural and historical
qualities of the building, planning for its
long-term use became a priority.
The 68th Legislature created the State
Preservation Board to "preserve, maintain
and restore the Capitol, the General Land
Office Building, and their contents and
grounds." In September, 1988, Allen
McCree, FAIA, was hired as Architect of
the Capitol and the development of the
Master Plan with its concept for the
restoration and underground extension
was formulated. 3D/International of
Houston and Ford, Powell and Carson of
San Antonio were selected to create the
plan and provide architectural and engineering
services for the restoration and
Although the Capitol was determined
not to be in immediate danger of collapse,
its structural, electrical, plumbing, and
safety features were found to be in need of
analysis and modernization. Aided by the
Interim Master Plan Report, the 71st
8 HERITAGE * SUMMER 1991
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 9, Number 3, Summer 1991, periodical, Summer 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45423/m1/8/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.