Ireland to Texas Legislature, January 11, 1887
When Reconstruction came to an end in the 1870s, Texans began to dream big again, and the modest capitol building of 1853 no longer suited the ambitions of the state. To fund the building of a new and grander capitol, the legislature in 1879 set aside three million acres of public domain land in the Panhandle. The land was surveyed in 1880.
On November 9, 1881, the old capitol burned to the ground, giving the plans a sudden urgency. In 1882, a syndicate of investors accepted the land (which eventually became the famed XIT Ranch), contracts were awarded, and construction of the new capitol began.
Five Texas governors played a role in the construction of the capitol. Francis R. Lubbock was state treasurer throughout the construction. Oran M. Roberts presided over the survey and sale of the capitol lands, the awarding of the contracts, and the groundbreaking. John Ireland insisted on the use of the pink granite which gives the Texas Capitol its distinctive beauty. Sul Ross served during the decisions to change the dome and roof and the debate on whether to accept the building given the shortcomings of the contractors. James S. Hogg, then attorney general, led the effort to delay acceptance of the structure until all repairs were made.
This manuscript of Ireland's message to the legislature details Ireland's role in selecting Texas granite for the exterior. The capitol was officially dedicated on May 16, 1888 and stands today as the emblem of Texas state government. It underwent a complete restoration from 1990-1995.
The New Capitol
After the work on the building had pro-
The law gave to the Governor, on behalf of the
Message to the Legislature, January 11, 1887, Records of John Ireland, Texas Office of the Governor, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.