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The Story of the Capitol


June 11, 1910 – Citizens vote to move Oklahoma’s capital from Guthrie to Oklahoma City. The new capitol is established in the Lee-Huckins Hotel.

August 4, 1910 – A temporary capitol is located at the former Irving High School building at 4th and Walnut in Oklahoma City. Various state agencies are headquartered in other buildings around the city.

August 24, 1910 – A site northeast of Putnam City (in present day Warr Acres) on land donated by I. M. Putnam is selected to be the location of the permanent state Capitol.

November 15, 1910 – The Oklahoma Supreme Court voided the 1910 election to move the capital to Oklahoma City based on faulty technical language in the initiative. The court also ruled the clause in the Enabling Act establishing the capital at Guthrie was not binding.

December 29, 1910 – The legislature, convened in special session, passed a bill to locate the capital in Oklahoma City. A contract is signed with State Capitol Building Company to locate the capitol in the northeast part of the city. The company agrees to provide 650 acres to be platted and sold, which would provide funds for construction.

May 29, 1911 – US Supreme Court rules in Coyle v. Smith that the clause in the Enabling Act establishing Guthrie as the state’s capital is unconstitutional.

February 12, 1912 – Oklahoma City passes $100,000 bond issue to provide funds for the construction of the Capitol.

April 18, 1912 – An initiative petition (State Question 40) providing for the removal of the capital from Oklahoma City and placing it permanently in Guthrie is filed with the Secretary of State.

November 5, 1912 – Citizens vote to retain Oklahoma’s capital in Oklahoma City.

July 8, 1914 – Edward P. Boyd is chosen as superintendent of construction for the capitol project by the State Capitol Building Commission.

July 20, 1914 – The Capitol groundbreaking ceremony takes place. Five thousand people are present for the ceremony.

October 27, 1914 – The State Capitol Building Commission formally accepted the plans and specifications for the building presented by architects Layton and Smith. The dome for the Capitol will be omitted due to cost.

Postcard of State Capitol and Grounds, 1948 (image courtesy Metropolitan Library System).

August 13, 1915 – James Stewart and Company’s bond for $1,353,000 is signed by the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company of New York, making them the general contractor on the Oklahoma State Capitol construction.

November 16, 1915 – The cornerstone is laid at the Capitol in a ceremony attended by thousands of people.

January 2, 1917 – The Sixth Legislature convenes in the unfinished Capitol.

June 18, 1917 – State agencies begin moving into the Capitol.

June 30, 1917 – The state Capitol is officially completed ahead of schedule. The contract with James Stewart and Company stipulated the building was to be completed by August 1, 1917.

July 10, 1917 – The first wedding in the Capitol takes place in the Supreme Court chamber.

August 22, 1917 – The Cottonwood Band of the Farmers’ Union is the first band to play in the Capitol.

September 24, 1917 – A fire started in a trash pile near the west entrance to the south wing causing several hundred dollars in damage.

September 26-28, 1923 – Governor Walton stations National Guard troops at the Capitol to prevent the legislature from convening in special session to begin impeachment proceedings. Walton would be impeached later that year.

July 3, 1924 – A wedding ceremony is performed in the Blue Room for the first time.

December 12, 1927 – Governor Henry S. Johnston stations National Guard troops in the Capitol to prevent the legislature from convening in special session to begin impeachment proceedings. Governor Johnston would be impeached in 1929.

November 11, 1928 – The Pro Patria murals by Thomas Gilbert White are dedicated. The murals, commissioned by Frank Phillips, honor soldiers from Oklahoma who fought and died in World War I. This is the first permanent art installation in the Capitol.

1928 – The Governor’s Mansion is completed.

1928 – Oil is discovered on land adjoining the Capitol.

1930 – The Oklahoma Historical Society building (later renamed the Wiley Post Building) is completed.

1930 – The Tribute to the Romantic Riders of the Range statue is installed in front of the Capitol. This was the first piece of exterior art to be placed on the Capitol grounds. Despite the inscription on the statue’s plaque, it was officially dedicated in 1957.

Snowy scene at the Oklahoma State Capitol, c. 1930 (21412.M20.35, Z. P. Meyers/Barney Hillerman Photographic Collection, OHS).

July 7, 1933 – Oklahoma’s first governor, Charles N. Haskell, laid in state in the Blue Room.

August 22, 1935 – Wiley Post lay in repose at the Capitol. Ten thousand people walked past the bier to pay their respects. Another 10,000 people were denied entry to the building.

1936 – Governor Marland opened state property to drilling and called out the National Guard to prevent the City of Oklahoma City from stopping drilling activity.

1938 – The Capitol Office Building (later renamed the Jim Thorpe Building) is completed. A subsequent appropriation would be needed to install partitions and fixtures. Tenants would occupy the building four years later.

1938 – The armory building for the headquarters of the Oklahoma National Guard is completed.

1940 – The walls and ceiling in Blue Room are refurbished. New furnishings are also purchased.

June 6, 1942 – State Capitol Well Number 1 (Petunia No. 1) was completed.

May 7, 1947 – Senator Tom Anglin was shot on the Senate floor by Representative Jimie Scott.

October 10, 1956 – Former governor William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray lay in state at the Capitol.

January 9, 1957 – Governor Raymond Gary kicked off the Oklahoma semi-centennial year with a “jubi-light” ceremony that included the lighting of a Christmas tree bonfire. The slogan for the semi-centennial was “Arrows to Atoms.”

1961 – The Capitol Office Building is renamed the Jim Thorpe Memorial Building. The Oklahoma Historical Society Building is renamed the Wiley Post Building.

1962 – The Will Rogers and Sequoyah Buildings are completed north of the Capitol.

Oklahoma State Capitol during restoration, c. 2020 (image courtesy Oklahoma Living).

January 3, 1963 – Former Oklahoma governor and sitting US Senator Robert S. Kerr lay in state in the Capitol’s second-floor rotunda.

1963 – The Will Rogers portrait by Charles Banks Wilson is installed in the fourth-floor floor rotunda.

1963 – The civil defense underground headquarters and bomb shelter is completed. It is situated 20 feet below ground between the Will Rogers and Sequoyah office buildings.

1964 – The Will Rogers portrait by Charles Banks Wilson is installed in the fourth-floor rotunda.

1965 – The Sequoyah and Robert S. Kerr portraits by Charles Banks Wilson are installed in the fourth-floor rotunda.

October 2, 1966 – The 14 Flags Plaza at the south entrance to the Capitol is dedicated by Governor Henry Bellmon. The plaza displayed flags from a 1964 World’s Fair exhibit that showcased the nations whose flag flew over the state from 1541 to 1925.

1966 – The Jim Thorpe portrait by Charles Banks Wilson is installed in the fourth-floor rotunda.

1966 – A large Oklahoma state seal, comprised of terrazzo, is installed in the floor of the first-floor rotunda.

1966 – The Blue Room is renovated. New furniture is purchased for the room.

1966 – The Governor’s Large Conference Room is created.

1968 – The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Building is completed.

1970 – The Senate chamber undergoes extensive renovation. Ornamental plaster scrolls are removed from walls and wood paneling is added. A glassed-in press gallery added.

January 29, 1971 – African American high school students from Classen, Northeast, and Douglass High Schools stage a sit-in to protest discrimination at their schools.

1972 – The 23rd Street underpass is completed between the Capitol and Will Rogers and Sequoyah Buildings linking the Capitol complex buildings by two bridges.

1972 – The south parking lot is constructed.

1972 – The motion picture, Thirty Dangerous Seconds,, is filmed in Oklahoma City with some scenes filmed at the Capitol.

1973 – A wheelchair ramp is added to the south entrance of the Capitol.

1974 – The Oliver Hodge and M. C. Connors office buildings are completed to the north of the Will Rogers and Sequoyah office buildings.

1974 – A tunnel linking the Capitol to a parking lot east of Lincoln Boulevard is constructed. Tunnels connecting the Will Rogers, Sequoyah, Connors, and Hodge Buildings are also completed.

1974 – A permanent office for the lieutenant governor is opened on the second floor of the Capitol.

1974 – The Allen Wright Memorial Library Building is completed.

1975 – The Department of Transportation Building is completed.

1975 – The Department of Veterans Affairs moves from the Wiley Post Building to a building near the armory, west of the Capitol.

November 16, 1976 – Four murals by Charles Banks Wilson depicting the history of Oklahoma from 1541 to 1900 were dedicated. The four murals are Discovery and Exploration, Frontier Trade, Indian Immigration, and Non-Indian Settlement.

1976 – Committee rooms flanking the Grand Staircase on the fourth floor are added.

1976 – The Capitol is added to the National Register of Historic Places.

February 28, 1978 to March 2, 1978 – Approximately 100 Langston University students occupied the Capitol overnight to protest the lack of funding for their university. Lawmakers and Capitol employees were “held hostage” within the House chambers until House leadership agreed to pursue “the best possible funding” for the university.

September 1, 1978 – The grounds around the Capitol are designated State Park Number 1.

1979 – The Governor’s Art Gallery is created in the room adjacent to the Blue Room.

March 16, 1982 – President Ronald Reagan addresses a joint session of the Oklahoma Legislature in the House of Representatives chamber. As of 2022, Reagan is the first and only sitting president to visit the Capitol.

1982 – Bronze busts of 21 former governors are placed in the second- floor rotunda as a part of the state’s Diamond Jubilee celebration. The busts were sculpted by Leonard McMurry.

February 7, 1984 – Portraits of four prominent African American Oklahomans are dedicated.

1984 – The Department of Agriculture Building is completed.

1985 – The Denver Davidson Building is completed. It is used by Workers’ Compensation Court and Court of Appeals.

November 11, 1986 – The Veterans Memorial on the north side of the Wiley Post building (now the Oklahoma Judicial Center) is dedicated.

1986 – State Capitol Well No. 1 (Petunia No. 1) is plugged.

An interior view of the dome (image courtesy TravelOK).

June 4, 1989 – As Long as the Waters Flow statue unveiled on the south plaza on the grounds of the Capitol.

1990 – A geothermal heating and cooling system for the Capitol is completed.

1990 – Thousands of teachers rally for three days at the Capitol in support of HB1017, a landmark education reform bill.

November 17, 1991 – The Flight of the Spirit mural is dedicated.

1991 – The Travis Harris Building, a library for people who are blind or have a disability, is completed.

1991 – New paint colors are applied to the building’s interior. The colors chosen were Mozart melon, gold leaf, opal basil, and powder blue.

December 7, 1994 – The bronze busts of Oklahoma governors are relocated to the south wing of the second floor. The corridor is renamed the Hall of Governors.

1994 – The restoration of the Senate chamber is completed.

November 19, 1995 – A memorial grove of trees gifted by the citizens of Iowa to honor victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing is dedicated on the north end of the Capitol Complex, between the Hodge and Conners office buildings.

1995 – The Indian Flag Plaza is completed on the grounds north of the Capitol.

1996 – The Oklahoma Black Gold mural is dedicated.

1997 – Restoration of the Court of Criminal Appeals courtroom on the second floor is completed.

September 17, 1998 – Gold-plated replica Olympic medals awarded to Jim Thorpe for his performances at the 1912 Olympic Games are stolen from the fourth-floor rotunda. The thief surrendered and returned the medals a few days later.

1998 – The Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund founded by Senator Charles Ford placed its first painting in the capitol. The painting depicted Washington Irving’s trip near Tulsa in 1832.

March 16, 1999 – The We Belong to the Land mural is dedicated.

1999 – The Jan Eric Cartwright Law Library Law Library moves from the first floor of the Capitol to the basement.

February 16, 2000 – 15,000 teachers and education supporters rally at the Capitol in support of a teacher pay raise.

July 25, 2000 – Governor Frank Keating announces plans to erect a dome on the Capitol. Keating intends to raise most of the money to construct the dome privately.

October 19, 2000 – The State Capitol Preservation Commission selects The Guardian by Enoch Kelly Haney to be the finial sculpture on the dome.

2000 – The House of Representatives chamber is restored.

The dome at sunset (image courtesy TravelOK).

2001 – A sculpture of Kate Barnard is installed in the Capitol.

2001 – Areas around Capitol Well Site No. 1 and the Francis No. 1 Well Site are landscaped and improved.

June 7, 2002 – The Guardian statue is placed atop the Capitol’s dome.

November 16, 2002 – The new dome on the Capitol is completed and dedicated.

2002 – The Centennial Memorial Plaza is completed.

2004 – X-ray machines and metal detectors are added at Capitol entrances. The historic south entrance is no longer a public entrance.

2006 – The Oklahoma History Center building is completed.

2006 – A new building for the Attorney General’s office is completed west of the Capitol.

November 16, 2007 – The Betty Price Art Gallery opens on the first floor of the Capitol.

2010 – The Beyond the Centennial mural is installed in the Hall of Governors. This is the first work of art by a Hispanic artist to be featured in the Capitol.

June 16, 2011 – Clara Luper lay in repose in the first-floor rotunda of the Capitol.

2011 – Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals move their offices from the Capitol to the Wiley Post Building. The Supreme Court retains its historic courtroom in the Capitol.

2012 – A granite monument with an inscription of the Ten Commandments is installed on the north side of the Capitol. The monument was later removed in 2015 after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the monument’s placement on state property to be unconstitutional.

2013 – The Senate Assembly Room is completed on the fifth floor.

2013 – Preservation Oklahoma, Inc. listed the Capitol on its list of Oklahoma’s most endangered places.

July 20, 2014 – The State Capitol Restoration Project commences, 100 years after the groundbreaking for the building.

2014 – A $120 million bond issue for the “renovation, repair, and remodeling” of the Capitol is signed into law.

November 16, 2015 – Cornerstone centennial ceremony is held. View a copy of the program here!

May 13–14, 2016 – The popular NBC television show American Ninja Warrior films for two nights in front of the Capitol. The show would return in 2019 for another two nights of filming.

2016 - A $125 million bond issue for the “renovation, repair, and remodeling” of the Capitol is signed into law.

April 2018 – According to reports, approximately 30,000 teachers and citizens rally at the Capitol over a period of two weeks for better teacher pay and more funding for education.

2019 – Reconstruction of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Building is completed.

May 31, 2020 – Black Lives Matter protest takes place at the Capitol.

2020 – The new visitor entrance on the southeast side of the Capitol is completed.

2020 – The lieutenant governor’s office moves to the 1st floor.

2020 – After five years, the exterior restoration of the Capitol is complete. Over 21 miles of mortar joints are repointed, over 4,600 stone repairs are completed, and all 477 original windows are restored. A new copper roof is installed.

2021 – The new ground-floor rotunda completed. The rotunda contains a bronze state seal 14 feet in diameter, replacing the terrazzo state seal that was removed from the 1st floor when a hole was cut in the floor to connect the ground floor (originally sub-basement and most recently the basement) to the remainder of the building.

2022 – The State Capitol Museum is installed on the ground floor.

2022 – The Betty Price Art Gallery is relocated to the second floor in the former Hall of Governors. The Hall of Governors is relocated to the second-floor monumental corridor formerly occupied by the lieutenant governor’s office.

2022 – The legislative chambers for the House of Representatives and Senate are restored.

2022 – The State Capitol Restoration Project is completed.

The interior of the Capitol during restoration (image courtesy The Oklahoman).