Albany: State Capitol Building

Last week I was adventuring in Albany for the New York State Historic Preservation Conference; Albany and Troy were host cities for the conference’s events. If you’ve never been to either of those cities I highly suggest going. There are a lot of cool cultural and historical sites. Plus, many local shops and eateries to check out!

While at the Conference, I saw and learned a lot of cool things related to architecture, preservation, and the Capitol Region. This week and next, I’m going to focus on some of the places I saw and visited starting with the State Capitol Building.

I’ve been to the Capitol Building one other time, which was in 6th grade for a class trip. I really don’t remember a lot about seeing the Capitol Building and the photos I took then, were with a disposable camera! This time around, I had a much better camera, an amazing tour guide, and was surrounded by a bunch of building geeks, which was exciting!

So first off, let’s history about the State Capitol Building because that’s what we’re here for! The planning for the building began in 1866 and wasn’t declared complete until 1899 by Governor Theodore Roosevelt. And by “declared complete” it really meant that the building was costing too much and needed to end. On the tour there was one room we visited where the incomplete parts were pointed out by the tour guide. So you’re wondering now, how MUCH did the New York State Capitol Building cost? It cost $25 million dollars! That makes our New York Capitol Building more expensive than the US Capitol Building. Let’s all thank Henry Hobson Richardson, one of the architects for this. He designed the “Million Dollar Staircase.” Hopefully that gives you an idea of how Richardson helped push the costs of the building way, way up. Anyways, that price tag is impressive and I’m not sure in a good way but at the least the building looks pretty!

During the 33 years of construction, the building had five different architects that all brought unique thoughts and details to the building. Those architects include: Thomas Fuller, Leopold Eidlitz, Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted (he was a landscape architect), and finally Isaac G. Perry. Perry finished the building after Richardson and Eidlitz were dismissed because of the costs of the building.

Most recently, the complex has went through major restoration work from 2000 to 2013. Things that were completed during the restoration included the skylight and lay light over the Great Western Staircase and Assembly Staircase, conservation cleaning of the staircase masonry, and ornamental and light fixtures. There’s a link at the bottom of this post for more information on the restoration work. The building also had work done so that it would meet ADA requirements. ADA the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it is a law requiring buildings to be accessible for people with disabilities and equal opportunities for those with disabilities.

The tour guide was named Jack and he was a former Assemblyman for the Albany area. I’m not sure if he’s a normal tour guide or was asked to do the tour for the Preservation Conference. Either way, he was very knowledgeable about the history of the building and what had occurred during the restoration. He had a very interesting point to make about touring the property, to paraphrase Jack, he said that as residents of NY State, we own the building and we have a right to see everything in the building because we pay for it.

So let’s look at the photographs I took of the building to give you an idea of how awesome it is and hopefully it makes you want to visit the New York State Capitol.

A view of the exterior of the Capitol Building. The building is considered to be “French Revival” but it was suppose to be more “Italian Revival” but Richardson had other plans and basically said no one would know the difference!

The following “galleries” of photos are related to different sections of the Capitol building. There are descriptions for each photo giving a little back ground of what you’re looking at.

Free tours are offered Monday through Friday at 10:00 am, Noon, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm. For more information on the tours follow this link:

For more information on the architecture, more photos, and more history on the NY State Capitol Building check out these links:

Be on the lookout for my upcoming posts about places and history in Albany and Troy.



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