Nevada’s Capitol Building full of history

A cluster of trees stands in front of Carson City’s Capitol Building at 101 N. Carson St., a mix of Norway maple, sugar maple, locust, elms and an American dogwood.

Nevada’s governor’s office and a second-floor historical exhibition can be found inside. For more than 50 years, all three branches of the state government were housed in the Capitol: The Supreme Court met there until 1937, when it moved into an adjacent building, and the Nevada Legislature met there until 1971, until it moved to its new Legislative Building just south of the Capitol.

Designed by San Franciscan Joseph Gosling, the Capitol building was built by Carson City-based Peter Cavanaugh &Son, whose $84,000 bid was almost half the actual cost of the building. Furnishings cost an additional $20,000. Construction lasted from April 21, 1870, until May 1, 1871.

The building was built from locally quarried sandstone, and its silver-colored cupola dome stands 120 feet in the air. When the cornerstone was laid on June 9, 1870, a brass box that served as a time capsule was deposited in a cavity under the cornerstone.

The sandstone was obtained for free from the Nevada State Prison quarry just outside of Carson City. The windows’ glass panes are made of 26-ounce French crystal, as are those above the doors. Floors and wainscoting are Alaskan marble, shipped in 20-ton blocks to San Francisco, where they were cut and polished.

Commissioned in 1869, the building has received additions since its original construction, including that of the Capitol annex in 1906, the extension of two wings in 1914 and a $6 million earthquake and fireproofing from 1978 to 1980.