publications

Second State Capitol

The first Nebraska state capitol, built in Lincoln in 1868 and 1869, was replaced by a second less than twenty years later. Because the first capitol was built so hurriedly and with poor materials, it soon fell into disrepair. A replacement was needed. A second state capitol was begun in 1879 and completed in stages over the next ten years. Upon completion, some criticism of the new structure and the building contractor, W. H. B. Stout, was heard. Defects included a crack in the south wall of the east wing caused by the breaking of an arch over an old sandpit.

The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on January 8, 1889, defended the new state capitol: “The JOURNAL happened to hear a good many remarks of strangers and citizens who have been passing through the Nebraska state capitol building since the convening of the legislature, and the general expression is that it is the largest and best finished building for the money it cost, that they have ever seen. . . . THE JOURNAL has before it a calendar furnished by Humphrey Bros. that has plates of all the capitol buildings of the United States and invites the people who think Nebraska has a scrub building to take a look at these plates. We guarantee the assertion that the judgment of nine out of ten of our readers would be that the proportions of our capitol are as harmonious and the building as beautiful and symmetrical as any other of the forty or so buildings portrayed.

“As to its solidity and workmanship there can be no question by anybody who has examined it. Of course we shall hear the ‘crack in the east wing’ expatiated upon until the fault has been remedied, but whoever is to blame for that it is not the contractor. It occurs over a spot where a deep excavation had been made in 1868 to dig sand for the old capitol. The sand pit had been filled up for years and forgotten but the fact of its existence had been discovered, and the architect and superintendent ordered an arch to be constructed over the spot in the foundations. This was done. After the wing was finished it proved that the span of this arch had not been long enough, as one side of it settled, making a crack in the walls. A few hundred dollars will repair this injury, and it is the grossest injustice on the part of two-for-a-cent correspondents to hold the contractor, who does not pretend to be an architect, responsible for the accident. THE JOURNAL does not believe that there is a handsomer, stauncher or better building in the country for the money.”

The second state capitol building proved to be too small almost as soon as it was finished. When the third capitol was built, the second was left in place and the new one begun around it. After this stage was completed, the old capitol was gradually torn down, and the center of the new building rose in its place. It was completed in 1932.

 

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast.

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.