Old Cap Tour - Governor's Office
Curtains and Desk

Governor's Office: The Seat of Iowa's Political Leadership


Governor definition: The leading government official in every state is a governor, elected by the people.

Many significant Iowans presided in the governor's office. The first was Ansel Briggs, who served as Iowa's governor from 1846-1850. His experience as a stagecoach driver and mail carrier prompted him to work to improve transportation for pioneers.

Stephan B. Hempstead followed Briggs as governor from 1850-1854. During Hempstead's four years in office, he added 52 counties to the state of Iowa. James W. Grimes was the last governor to occupy this office, from 1854-1858, and helped move the government to Des Moines in 1857. He worked to establish schools of higher education in Iowa, including the University of Iowa.

When the building was given to the University in 1858, officials divided this space into four separate rooms: the office of the Department of Political Economics and three classrooms. As the University added more buildings, administrators moved into this office. The Board of Regents frequently met here to make important decisions on academic programs, guidelines, and budgets.

The governor's office served many purposes and hosted a variety of lawmakers, administrators, and special guests. Even its furnishings were multifunctional. The large desk has drawers that open from both sides, allowing two people to work at the same time. The drop-leaf table and four walnut side chairs served for both business transactions and social visits. The ingrain (flat, woven, reversible) wool carpet could be turned over when one side became dirty, or removed for easy cleaning.

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Old Capitol Museum
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