“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Old Capitol Building

Old Capitol Building Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Pfingsten, March 21, 2008
1. Old Capitol Building Marker
Inscription. When the decision was made in 1810 to designate Harrisburg the Pennsylvania State Capital, the prophecy of John Harris Jr.'s town plan of 1785 was realized. At that time, he donated four acres of land to the Commonwealth, a portion of which is now Capitol Park, to induce the future location of the state seat of government there. The Legislature's decision of moving the Capital, temporarily located at Lancaster was the result of sharp discourse over whether Pennsylvania's seat of government should be returned to its original location of Philadelphia, or moved to one of a number of locations farther inland. Harrisburg was finally selected, it was argued, because of the town's "very pleasant and handsome" setting and the industrious spirit shown in having grown quickly since its founding only 25 years earlier. With no funds allocated to build a Capitol, the Legislature first met in the Dauphin County Courthouse on Market Street. In 1816, the Commonwealth provided for the erection of a permanent State Capitol on a hill to be purchased from the heirs of the late U.S. Senator, William Maclay, just north of John Harris' four-acre reserve. English-born architect and contractor Stephen Hills won a competition to design and construct the building which was completed and occupied in 1822. The Old Capitol served the Commonwealth well. U.S. Presidents Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, Lincoln, Grant and Hayes as well as the Prince of Wales, Daniel Webster and the Marquis de Lafayette had all been within its walls. On February 2, 1897, it was totally destroyed by fire.
Top Photo
Old Capitol Building looking east on State Street from N. Second Street in 1875.
Middle Photo
Close-up view of the Old Capitol Building from N. Third and State Streets.
Bottom Photo
Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Building in 1891.

Erected by The Harrisburg History Project Commissioned by Mayor Stephen R. Reed.
Location. 40° 15.836′ N, 76° 53.1′ W. Marker is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in Dauphin County. Marker is at the intersection of State Street and Third Street, on the left when traveling east on State Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Harrisburg PA 17101, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Present State Capitol Building (here, next to this marker); Public Sector Unionism (a few steps from this marker); Grace United Methodist Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Grace Methodist Church (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); State Capitol (about 300 feet away); Saint Patrick's Cathedral (about 300 feet away); Old Brick Capitol (about 300 feet away); Pine Street Presbyterian Church (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Harrisburg.
Categories. GovernmentLandmarksNotable BuildingsNotable Persons
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,143 times since then and 48 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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