exterior undergoes full restoration
lay encaustic tile at the east Capitol entrance
of the Capitol's north wing
A fire that
came dangerously close to destroying the Capitol in 1983 led to
the creation of the State Preservation Board. Its mission, to "preserve,
maintain and restore the Capitol, the General Land Office Building,
and their contents and grounds," resulted in the development of
a Master Plan for the restoration of the Capitol. The purpose of
the Texas Capitol Preservation and Extension Project, which grew
out of the Master Plan's recommendations, was to restore the Capitol
as closely as possible to its original design while creating a safer,
more efficient center of government.
In 1990, work
began on the Capitol Extension,
an underground building designed to provide the Capitol with much
needed additional space without sacrificing its historical integrity.
This monumental project which involved digging a 65-foot-deep site
out of solid rock, provided the Capitol with approximately 667,000
additional gross square feet and was completed in 1993.
In 1991, work
began on the exterior restoration of the Capitol. Scaffolding was
erected over the entire building and repairs were made to the metal
dome and roof, granite, mortar and architectural detailing. The
entire exterior of the building was stabilized. This work was completed
of the interior focused on returning the Capitol to its pre-1915
condition. All non-original architectural elements such as walls
and lowered ceilings were removed, and the building was restored
to its turn-of-the-century appearance. Entirely new plumbing, electrical
and communication systems also were installed during this phase
of the restoration which lasted from 1992 to 1995.
The Master Plan
identified several Significant
Spaces within the Capitol for their historical and architectural
importance to the building. Through the use of historical documentation,
these areas were returned to their historical appearance.
of the Capitol Grounds began
with the installation of new infrastructure, including fire protection
systems, water-conserving irrigation, and handicap-accessible walkways.
The historic Great Walk and Oval Walk were reconstructed to their
original configurations, and more than 180 trees and hundreds of
native plants were installed to replace those lost to old age and
disease. Original cast-iron pole lighting was restored and new tree-mounted
lighting was installed to provide increased nighttime security.
And finally, the custom iron fencing and gates were removed, reconditioned,
Land Office Building, which was completed in 1858 and restored from
1990 to 1992, became the Capitol
Visitors Center in 1994. It offers the public a variety of exhibits
on Texas History and the Capitol, theaters, free maps, travel information
and a gift shop.