Michigan’s Capitol Renovation

In the immediate years following the end of the Civil War — an era known as Reconstruction — a different type of construction was happening in Lansing.

On Oct. 2, 1873, officials in Lansing held a ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone of what would become our state’s permanent Capitol building. More than 140 years later, the Capitol is undergoing renovation to restore its iconic dome and sandstone façade.

After Michigan was admitted as the 26th state to the Union, Detroit served as our capital until 1847, when in accordance with the constitution, the state Legislature would elect a new city to serve as the state’s seat of government. In early March of that year, the governor signed the law declaring Lansing as the new capital city. Soon, a temporary structure was constructed to serve as the Capitol and a city began forming in the adjacent lands, which had been for the most part unsettled until that time.

By 1871 it was clear the 20-plus-year-old “temporary” building was no longer suitable nor befitting our state. A nationwide contest was held to select an architect for a permanent Capitol. Elijah Myers was awarded the job and responsibility of overseeing the $1.2 million project (about $23 million in today’s dollars). Continue reading