The Missouri capitol building is about to become part of our Friday Public Art series because the building is, in dozens of ways, a work of art. Here is the first in a series about the capitol.

It’s the sixth capitol we’ve had. Two were in St. Louis, one in St. Charles and then:

It was decided that the Capitol should be located more in the center of the state, and specifically, that it should be located on the Missouri river within 40 miles (64 km) of the mouth of the Osage. A group was sent out to survey various locations. The present location on top of the bluffs in Jefferson City was chosen because it afforded the best view of the Missouri River of any place which they had seen within the limits prescribed by the Constitution.

In the 1820s, we started with a simple structure in Jeff City that was two stories tall and only 40′ by 60′. It burned in 1837, was replaced, and the fifth capitol burned in 1911.

That building was approximately 50,000 SF and by 1911, was far too small to meet the needs of the legislators. Missouri Senator William Warner said, “I have no tears to shed over the fact that the building has been destroyed as it was totally inadequate and not in keeping with the requirements of our great state.”

And so the building in these pictures was finished in 1917 and occupied the following year. The photo at left is of the north side of the capitol. The two top photos show the south view, with a statue of Thomas Jefferson. Since the state was part of the Louisiana Purchase and since the Lewis and Clark expedition that Jefferson ordered began in this state, he’s an appropriate choice to greet visitors.

All photos courtesy of Wikimedia