A board of building commissioners was quickly named and a nationwide contest announced to select an architect to design the new capitol, with only $1,200,000 allowed for its construction. In January 1872, the winner was announced. A plan named “Tuebor” (meaning, “I will defend”) had been chosen. It was submitted by architect Elijah E. Myers of Springfield, Illinois.
Although the millions of bricks used for walls and ceilings were made in Lansing, building materials for the new capitol came from all over the country and even from abroad. Exterior stone came from Ohio, cast iron for the dome and floor beams from Pennsylvania, marble and limestone for the floors from Vermont, and tin for the roof from Wales. No preference was given to Michigan materials. Rather, the best materials were selected for the best price, no matter where they came from. The final cost of $1,427,738.78 was considered quite modest for the construction of a state capitol at the time.
The building’s style, incorporating motifs from classical Greek and Roman architecture, is often termed Renaissance Revival or Neoclassical. Columns in the classical orders – Doric, Ionic and Corinthian – grace the exterior and interior. A four-story entrance pavilion is flanked by balanced wings housing the legislative chambers, and high above it all floats a distinctive, graceful cast iron dome.
Michigan’s third capitol was dedicated on January 1, 1879. Sadly, the effects of crowding, remodeling, and neglect began to diminish the building almost at once. In 1989, a highly successful, award-winning restoration began. Completed in 1992, it reversed years of again and unfortunate alterations, rediscovering the building’s long-hidden beauty while equipping it to continue to serve as Michigan’s Capitol well into the future.
Today the Capitol once again server Michigan not only as the seat of state government but as a source of inspiration and a proud symbol of the state. At the same time, it serves as Michigan’s most widely-recognized public forum, the scene of protests and rallies, speeches and special events. This vibrant, much-loved building is now equipped to lead Michigan into the 21st century and beyond.