What Is the History of the Alabama State Capitol?

B. Turner
B. Turner
The Alabama state capitol was the first official home of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
The Alabama state capitol was the first official home of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

The Alabama State Capitol is the administrative and governmental seat for the state of Alabama. Many of the state's elected leaders, including the governor, maintain official offices within this facility. The history of the Alabama State Capitol building dates back to the mid-19th century, when state leaders moved the capitol to numerous locations before finally deciding on its present home in Montgomery. Since that time, the structure has seen multiple renovations and additions that have helped it keep up with the growing state government.

During the early 19th century, the capitol of Alabama was moved from city to city until officials finally decided to create a permanent capitol in Montgomery in 1846. In an effort to avoid using tax revenue, the state issued a series of construction bonds in 1846 and 1847 to fund a new capitol building. Construction began in 1846 on a spot known as Goat Hill. The facility was complete in 1847, and the Alabama Legislature began to meet in the capitol building in December of that year. Just two short years later, the Alabama State Capitol burned to the ground during a major fire in December 1849.

By 1851, the state had completed construction of a new building, which sat on the foundation of the old capitol. This structure was built in the Greek revival style, complete with a front portico, grand columns, and a magnificent central dome. In October 1851, the state legislature was once again able to meet in the state capitol building. In 1861, the Alabama State Capitol also became the first official home of the Confederate government before it was moved to Virginia. Jefferson Davis, first president of the Confederacy, also took the oath of office on the front steps of the Alabama State Capitol in 1861.

Throughout the next 150 years, the Alabama State Capitol underwent multiple additions. The original three-story structure was expanded in 1885 with a large rear addition. In 1906, an addition to the south end of the building was created using a Beaux Arts style of design, which was extremely popular during that time period. In 1930, rich murals were added to the interior surface of the central rotunda.

From 1985 to 1992, the Alabama Legislature was forced to move operations elsewhere due to extensive renovation and rehabilitation work. When this work was complete, the legislature chose to remain at the state house, where it continues to meet to this day. The state's governor and other elected officials moved back in to the Capitol and resumed operations. The legislature did meet briefly at the Alabama State Capitol in 2009 do to flooding at the state house. Today, visitors can tour certain sections of the Capitol to view period rooms as well as a small museum dedicated to the history of the state.

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Discussion Comments


The Capitol building is still referred to as "Goat Hill," although that properly refers to the political arm. "They're really messing things up on 'Goat Hill' this year."

Most elementary school students in Alabama take a trip to the state Capitol at least once. There are many areas of interest, including the State Archives Building, which is a fascinating place.

The Capitol building, however, is an impressive edifice and features an incredible spiral staircase that is a beast to climb, but fascinating to see. The walls are made of Georgia marble, the floors of Alabama marble and on the whole, it is a beautiful example of Greek Revival architecture.

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    • The Alabama state capitol was the first official home of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
      The Alabama state capitol was the first official home of the Confederacy during the Civil War.