Row 1 of 10. Image 1980s. An overcrowded office in the Capitol Ground Floor.


After nearly a century of use, the Capitol had become a building at risk. Overcrowding, haphazard remodelings and modern technological additions endangered the building and hid much of the original architecture. The Capitol did not meet basic contemporary standards for accessibility, life safety, building systems or energy efficiency.

Row 2 with 2 images. Image February 1983. Capitol hallway before fire.
Row 3. Image February 1983. Capitol hallway after fire.

February 1983

On February 6, 1983, a fire broke out in the east wing of the Capitol. Flames spread quickly throughout the second floor. The heroic efforts of Austin fire fighters prevented the complete destruction of the Capitol. In response, the 68th Legislature created the Texas State Preservation Board to restore, preserve and maintain the Capitol, Capitol Grounds and the Old General Land Office.


Like the Capitol itself, the Goddess of Liberty had deteriorated. Experts determined the zinc statue was in too poor of a condition to remain safely in place and made a replica from aluminum. On June 14, 1986, the Mississippi National Guard used a special "Skycrane" helicopter to place the new Goddess atop the dome.

Row 4. Image 1989. The Capitol and Extension side view blueprint.


The State Preservation Board developed the Capitol's Master Plan. The Plan's goals included preserving the building's structural integrity while restoring the Capitol to its original grandeur, ensuring that the Capitol remained the functional seat of Texas government and creating a safe working environment. The Master Plan recommended building an underground structure to alleviate overcrowding.

Row 5. Image 1990. Hole during the building of the Capitol Extension.


Construction began on the four-story underground Extension connected to the Capitol and other office buildings through a series of tunnels. Workers excavated a 65-foot site by digging through the limestone using a diamond belt saw with a 10-foot blade. They hauled out about 40,000 truckloads of dirt and pulverized limestone from the site.

Row 6. Image 1991. The Capitol with scafolding around the exterior.


Restoration of the Capitol exterior began with scaffolding over the entire building. Workers made repairs to the metal dome and roof, granite, mortar and architectural detailing, which stabilized the building.

Row 7. Image 1992. Workers on the inside to the Capitol.


Restoration of the interior began. The project opened up many historic spaces to their turn-of-the-century appearance. Tall glass partitions divided spaces while still maintaining the original architecture.

Row 8. Image 1993. The new Capitol Extension.


The Capitol Extension opened with 667,000 gross square feet of new space for offices, conference rooms, committee Rooms and an Auditorium. Skylights provided significant natural light and architectural elements and motifs complemented those in the Capitol.

Row 9. Image 1994. A table in the Capitol library.


The Restoration identified ten historic and significant spaces. Preservationists returned the Senate Chamber, House Chamber, historic offices, library, courtrooms, the Treasurer's Business Office, Agricultural Museum and the public corridors to their 1888-1915 appearance with original or reproduction furniture as well as artwork and decorative elements.

Row 10. Image 1995. Night time at the Texas Capitol with fireworks in the background.


The Capitol Restoration was completed. The project returned the Capitol to its glorious past as well as prepared it for the future. The Restoration made life safety a priority and made the building code compliant. The Capitol had new plumbing, electrical and communication systems as well as efficient environmental systems installed.

Back to History of the Capitol