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Nevada State Capitol Building

Historic Site or District
Nevada Capitol Building

ADA Accessibility Notes

ADA accessible

For more than 50 years, all three branches of the state government were housed in the Capitol. The Supreme Court met here until 1937, when it moved into an adjacent building, and the Nevada Legislature met here until 1971, until it moved to its new Legislative Building just south of the Capitol. Every Nevada governor except the first has had his office located inside the capitol. Today, the Capitol continues to serve the Governor, and contains historical exhibits on the second floor.

"The Story of Our Capitol" exhibit pays tribute to Nevada's quintessential historic building, a place filled with tradition and history. The Capitol's prominent silver dome is Carson City's most visible landmark and has been a symbol of Nevada's government since its completion. The cornerstone was laid on June 9, 1870. A brass box that served as a time capsule is deposited in a cavity in the stones under the cornerstone. The building sandstone was obtained free of charge from the Nevada State Prison quarry, just outside of Carson City. The windows' glass panes are made of 26-ounce French crystal, as are those above the doors. Floors and wainscoting are of Alaskan marble, shipped to San Francisco in 20-ton blocks and there cut and polished for installation.

Nevada passed from a territory to statehood in four short years, 1861-1864. On display are the wine glasses Territorial Governor James W. Nye and Carson City founder Abe Curry used to toast the success of the new state. Also on exhibit is a thirty-six star U.S. flag commemorating the Silver State's recognition as the thirty-sixth state to join the Union.

Nevada's government has evolved in this building, where state officials have had their offices and the senate and assembly once met. On view is one of the original legislative desks purchased in 1871. Also in place is the elk horn chair of Nevada Governor John Sparks, the honorary chair used by President Teddy Roosevelt when he was welcomed to the capital as the Hero of San Juan in 1903.

Governor Emmet Boyle, the first native Nevadan to hold the honor, signed the resolution supporting the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. A replica of his office as it was in 1920 is contained in this exhibit.

The Capitol building and grounds changed over time from the original architectural design to the additions of the Capitol annex in 1906, the extension of two wings in 1914, and a major $6 million earthquake and fireproofing between 1978-1980. These changes are detailed in the Capitol display.

The Capitol building was used as the museum to exhibit the collections of the Pacific Coast Pioneers, and in the 1930s magnificent collections of local Carson City Dr. S. L. Lee were displayed.

The state celebrated Nevada's centennial for statehood in 1964, with a massive birthday cake seven feet long and three feet wide cut by First Lady Bette Sawyer, assisted by comedian Jack Benny and served to the public in the assembly chambers to kick off the year-long celebrations. On display is a rare bottle of French cognac and commemorative collectibles designed for the celebration.

Within this landmark are many state symbols, such as a bust of a big horn sheep, a desert tortoise, and a beautifully hand-beaded Nevada State Seal.

For many years after its 1870 construction, Nevada's capitol building stood a lonely vigil in the center of Carson City. While grounds for the capitol complex had been set aside by town father, Abe Curry, Nevada started out small, and the need for big government had not developed.

Now, more than 130 years later, the building is still used, standing as a testament to the foresight of Nevada's founding fathers. Other grand Carson City buildings surround the capitol, marking the incredible growth of Nevada's capital city. But the capitol building, constructed of native sandstone, holds the special designation as the second oldest capitol building west of the Mississippi River.

Today the capitol complex in the heart of Carson City provides a picturesque campus setting which includes the State Capitol, Legislative Building, Supreme Court, and State Library and Archives. What was once a dusty, sometimes muddy, pit in the middle of a growing frontier town, is now lush with native plant species and buildings of impressive architectural detail.

The state capitol is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is also Nevada Historical Marker number 25.

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