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Sooner Stories

The Domeless Wonder - 
Oklahoma's State Capitol Building

August 2001

When Oklahoma's second Governor, Lee Cruce, took office, plans for the construction of the state capitol building were already underway. In 1913, the Legislature established the State Capitol Commission to oversee the erection of the building, which began in 1914. Photo of State Capitol Under Construction

With the approval of the Legislature, the firm of S.A. Layton and Wemyss-Smith received a $75,000 contract to prepare architectural plans. The Seward Construction Company broke ground August 4, 1915. 

The design of the capitol is classical Greek and Roman architecture. Most of the interior and exterior materials used during construction came from Oklahoma's resources such as Tishomingo granite and black granite from Cold Springs, Oklahoma. 

Unfortunately, the $1.5 million appropriated by the Legislature for capitol construction failed to cover the entire expense. Plans for completing the dome were dropped temporarily. 

Eager to complete the capitol, Governor Robert Williams made himself chairman of the commission supervising its construction.

Unfinished, Governor Williams moved in and the state took formal delivery of the capitol on July 1, 1917. 

A temporary "cap" was placed on the building in the space where the dome was to be built. This so-called "crime against the capitol" has remained so for approximately 80 years despite numerous attempts to finance the completion of the capitol's dome. 

The original architects, Layton and Smith, planned a dome for the building and reportedly traveled to Paris to visit an architect who specialized in dome construction. Despite their initial plans, a lack of funds has kept the capitol domeless.

Governors, state officials and the public have clamored to date for some sort of top. Past ideas have included creating additional office space, building a fiberglass dome or creating a revolving restaurant top.

Governor Frank Keating announced plans to construct a dome on the Oklahoma state capitol building. 

Funds from private sources has enabled construction of the 155 ft. dome to begin in early 2001 and is expected to be completed by Statehood Day, November 16, 2002. 

Those interested in further information on the capitol's construction can research State Senate and House Bill files, records from the Office of Governor, and the records of the State Capitol Commission.

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