1842-1857 Territorial and State Years
Construction of Old Capitol began with the laying of the cornerstone on July 4,1840.
Nine days later, the project's architect, John F. Rague, resigned, leaving Chauncey
Swan, one of the territorial government commissioners who had selected the site of
Iowa City and the capitol, to oversee construction.
Most of the four-ton blocks of Devonian limestone used in the original construction
were quarried from bluffs along the Iowa River near North Liberty, floated on barges
to Iowa City and then hauled by oxen to the construction site. Original floor joists,
roof trusses and other supporting beams were hand hewn from native oak. An unusual
reverse spiral staircase dominated the central hallways, and the building's dome
was first sheathed in copper.
By 1842, four rooms in Old Capitol were completed. The Iowa Legislative Assembly
used the building for the first time in December of that year. The building was
not completed until after the state government, having just appropriated $4,000
to finish construction of Old Capitol, moved to Des Moines in 1857.