Missouri Capitol lives through fiery past
JEFFERSON CITY - Residents of Mid-Missouri are accustomed to seeing the large rotunda of the Capitol building in Jefferson City on a regular basis, but the building has not always been the focus of the city.
Originally, St. Charles was the temporary capital until a place could be found in central Missouri. The original Capitol building still stands in St. Charles today.
In 1826, the first Capitol was built in Jefferson City. According to the Director of the Missouri State Museum Tiffany Patterson, the building was approximately in the same position as the Governor's Mansion is today.
"There were people in the vicinity of Jefferson City, but there wasn't really anything, so it took a while to lay it out and build the streets," Patterson said.
The first Jefferson City Capitol building burned in 1837.
"The story is a state official left a fire in the fireplace, and it caught papers on fire and burned the building down," Patterson said.
The state was already considering a new location for the Capitol before the building burned because the building was too small.
A new Capitol building was built in the location of the current building in 1840. The government used the new building until the 1880s, when it also became too small, so government officials built on a new addition.
"On February 5, 1911, that building, the dome of that building was struck by lightning, and it pretty much burned everything on the inside. All that was left was kind of stone walls of what had been the 1880s Capitol," Patterson said.
The current Capitol building was completed in 1917 with a special acoustic feature inside the fourth floor of the dome.
"There's something called the Whispering Gallery, and the acoustics are really strange up there and echoey, but if you do whisper just if you are on the far side and just whisper along the wall, you can hear it very clearly," Patterson said.
But Patterson said her favorite feature is the artwork decorations throughout the building.
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