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A Timeline of Oregon's Capitols - 1859 to Present
 

Several cities served as the capital of Oregon before Salem was chosen to be the official State Capital.  These include Oregon City, West Linn, and Corvallis. Even after the capital settled in Salem, a number of buildings served as the State Capitol.

Years 1848 - 1859

Avery Building, Corvallis; Oregon territorial government met here in December 1855.Nesmith Building, Salem, in 1894; served as the Territorial capitol from 1855-1859. Holman Building, Salem; served as temporary capitol from 1855 to 1876, taken 1925.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



1848    On August 14 Congress passes the act to establish the Territorial Government of Oregon. Oregon City was the first capital.

1852    President Millard Fillmore signs a measure May 4, 1852 officially making Salem the Capital of the Oregon Territory.


1854    After an appropriation from Congress, William H. Rector receives a contract for building Capitol building on the site of the present capitol. On December 3 the legislature of the territory commences its sixth annual session in the new building.


1855    Bill is passed temporarily moving the Territorial legislature to Corvallis. After meeting there between December 3 and 18, legislators move the capital back to Salem. On December 30, the Capitol building burns down under suspicious circumstances.

 

1856    Legislature begins meeting in the Nesmith building in Salem.

 

1859    Oregon is admitted to the Union on February 14. Legislature begins meeting in the Holman Building in Salem.


Years 1860 - 1934

1876 Capitol Building before porticoes were added in 1888. 1876 Capitol Building, view from northwest, after porticoes were added in 1888, before dome was added in 1893. 1876 Capitol Building West facade, after dome was added in 1893.
 
1864
    Salem is chosen by popular vote to be the capital city of the State of Oregon.
 

1872    The legislature authorizes the construction of a new Capitol in September. The architects for the new capitol building are Justus Krumbein and W. G. Gilbert.


1876    Possession of the building is taken in August.

1888    Porticoes are added to the building at a cost of $100,000. 


1893    A dome is erected on top of the Capitol designed by Justus Krumbein.


Years 1935 - Present

1938 Capitol, taken shortly after completion, 1938.

1938 Capitol, taken before the underground Capitol Mall Parking Structure  was completed in 1990.1938 Capitol with new wings, added in 1977.


1935    At 6:30 p.m. on April 25, a fire begins burning in a basement storeroom of the Capitol, completely destroying the building. After the fire, the House meets in the Salem Armory and the Senate in the Marion Hotel.

 

1938    The present capitol building, designed by Francis Keally, with the New York firm of Trowbridge & Livingston, is dedicated on October 1.


1977    Legislative office wings are added to the southeast and southwest corners of the Capitol designed by Wolf, Zimmer, Gunsul, Frasca Partnership of Portland.


1995    The rotunda and dome are restored and reinforced following earthquake damage in 1993.


Publications

 
Historic Capitols of Oregon : an Illustrated Chronology William Allen Bentsen, introduction by Mark O. Hatfield. Salem, Or. : Oregon Library Foundation, 1987

Photos

Avery Building, Corvallis; Oregon territorial government met here in December 1855.Holman Building, Salem; served as temporary capitol from 1855 to 1876, taken 1925.Holman Building, Salem; served as temporary capitol from 1855 to 1876, taken 1925.1876 Capitol Building before porticoes were added in 1888.1876 Capitol Building, view from northwest, after porticoes were added in 1888, before dome was added in 1893.






1876 Capitol Building, interior of the House Chamber, 1895 session.1876 Capitol Building, interior of the House Chamber, 1895 session.1876 Capitol Building interior, State Lands Office.1876 Capitol Building interior of safe, State Lands Office.






1876 Capitol Building, legislature standing on steps, 1890.1876 Capitol Building from the West, with park in foreground, after 1893 when the dome was added.1876 Capitol Building view from the Northwest, after the dome was added in 1893.
1876 Capitol Building from the East, with gardens in the foreground, after 1893 when dome was added.





1876 Capitol Building, cannons on the capitol grounds, circa 1930.1876 Capitol Building, view from the West, after dome was added in 1893, with memorial statue in the foreground.1876 Capitol Building, Dodge Bros. touring car driving up steps, 1914.1876 Capitol Building West facade, after dome was added in 1893.Circuit Rider statue on the grounds of the 1876 Capitol.