Flags at the Capitol



The General Assembly established a capitol commission in 1870 to select an architect, a building plan, and to proceed with the construction of a new Capitol. The cost of the building was not to exceed $1,500,000 and was to be completed without increasing taxes.

Construction began in 1871, the building was dedicated in 1884 and completed in 1886.

In 1902, there was an effort to modernize the building. Remodeling, renovation and decoration of the building began, this included electric lighting, elevators and telephones.

As work proceeded, a disastrous fire occured in the north wing on January 4th, 1904. The House chamber, Supreme Court chamber, and other offices were damaged. Following the fire, the damaged areas were repaired, decoration of the interior was completed and additional artwork purchased.

The Capitol is constructed of limestone, granite, sandstone and brick. The center dome is covered in 23-karat gold leaf and stands 275 feet above ground. Four smaller domes covered in copper and tarnished to a soft green color rise at each corner.

The massive structure measures 364 feet from north to south and 247 feet from east to west.


  THE FIRE OF 1904

On January 4, 1904, a workman's candle started a fire in the House chambers in the North wing of the Capitol. As smoke and water filled the capitol and fire threatened the battle flags, "old veterans gathered around to rescue them should they became in immediate danger." The fire did not reach the flags but caused their removal to the state armory.

On August 27, 1905, the Adjutant General returned 128 Civil War battle flags to the Capitol building. Four new exhibit cases had been built around the main floor atrium. Here they remained until the first case (northeast of the rotunda) was opened and the flags moved to the Battle Flag conservation lab in 2002.


On Battle Flag Day, August 10, 1894, the flags from Iowa's Civil War regiments were placed on display in the capitol building. The display cases were located around the entrance of the 2nd floor State Law Library. The only known photograph of these cases is shown here.

Anyone with photographs of the battle flags exhibited on the 2nd floor of the Capitol or in the State Armory is encouraged to contact the Iowa Battle Flag Project.