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CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF KENTUCKY.
In April, 1792, a convention assembled at Danville and prepared a Constitution of Government; and on the fourth day of the following June, the territory theretofore known as West Fincastle county, Virginia, was admitted into the Federal Union, as a sovereign State, the Commonwealth of Kentucky. On Monday, the fourth of June succeeding, the first session of the first General Assembly was held at Lexington, the seat of government of the new State, and on the fifth of November of the same year, the second session was held. These meetings were held in a rude two-story log building, which was the first temporary state house. On December 22, 1792, the General Assembly adjourned to hold its next meetings in the house of Andrew Holmes, at Frankfort, and thenceforth Lexington ceased to be the seat of government.
The second State House of Kentucky, also temporary, was a large frame house in the lower part of Frankfort, In this the session of 1793 was held.
The third State House of Kentucky (the first permanent one), erected for the purpose, was occupied for the first time as the capitol by the third General Assembly on Monday, November 3, 1794. This is described by historians as being of stone, very rough and unsightly, and three stories high. The first floor was occupied by the public offices; on the second floor was the hall of the House of Representatives, and the several courts of justice; the Senate chamber was in the third story, and hence the distinction at that early day of the "upper” and “lower house.” The records show that the State paid not exceed
ing $3,500 toward the erection of the first permanent capitol, the remainder having been subscribed by Andrew Holmes and others to secure the location at Frankfort. It was destroyed by fire November 25, 1813.
The fourth State House of Kentucky was, of course, temporary, a building having been rented by the State until the completion of a new capitol.
The fifth State House of Kentucky (the second permanent capitol), was built in 1814-16. Its construction was authorized by act of January 31, 1814, when a commission was appointed to contract for and superintend the erection of a new capitol. It was constructed at a cost of $40,000, of which $20,900, was realized from individual subscriptions and the balance was appropriated by the State. The building was of brick, two stories high with two rooms on the first floor, which were utilized by the Legislature, while the courts of justice were accommodated on the second floor. There were two wings detached from the main building used as offices by the State officials. On November 4, 1824, the second permanent State House was burned, leaving only the wings intact.
The sixth State House (again temporary), and rendered necessary by the recent fire, consisted of the seminary building on the east side of the capitol square, where the Senate held its sessions, and the large meeting-house on the west side, which was occupied by the House of Representatives. On December 12, 1825, the latter body was again forced to move, as the meeting-house burned, and the sessions were held in the Methodist church for the use of which a voluntary rent was paid.
The seventh State House of Kentucky (the third permanent capitol), was first occupied by both houses of the Legislature on December 7, 1829, and is the same in which the sessions are held to-day (January 1900). Six different appropriations were made for the erection of this capitol, of
sums amounting to about $85,000 in the aggregate. ColJins' history, published in 1878, describes it in the following manner: “It is a large and very handsome structure built of polished Kentucky marble-with a portico in front supported hy six columns of the Ionic order. The Senate and Representative halls are in the second story, each of moderate capacity, handsomely finished.”
Probably nothing about the State House has been so universally admired as the marble stairway under the dome and leading to the legislative halls.
Collins' history also makes mention of the life-sized portraits in the capitol. These portraits are still there and occupy the same relative position as described at that time. The same authority described the Governor's Mansion as follows: “A large plain building of brick-no longer creditable to the wealth, pride, and public spirit of the people of Kentucky.”
The above description of the State House proper and of the executive mansion, which is still the home of the Governor, written in 1878 (22 years ago), is applicable to the respective buildings as they stand to-day, save in a few minor details.
In 1869 new and more commodious state buildings were projected. An appropriation of $100,000 was made and a commission was created to formulate plans for the new capitol. The plans adopted contemplated handsome east and west wings of three stories, built of dressed stone, and joined by a central structure of which the old state house proper was to constitute an integral part. The new building was to be surmounted by a handsome dome. Porticoes of classic style
to finish the east and west wings while in the main front was to be a portico on Corinthian columns, the whole to present a handsome appearance and at the same time, one of severe simplicity.
T'he Senate chamber was to be located in the east wing
and the House of Representatives in the west wing, and in the two wings were to be provided offices for the various State officials. In 1871, an additional appropriation of $55000 was made which but partially completed the work as already begun, and consequently the east wing was left and is still in an unfinished condition, while the west wing was never commenced. Consequently the old west wing of the second permanent capitol built in 1814-16 still stands and is utilized for public offices.
The proposed new capitol would not only have been of architectural beauty, adequately supplying the long-felt need of office room and facilities for the transaction of public business but would have reflected credit on the Commonwealth.
INDEX TO THE CONSTITUTION OF KENTUCKY.
.231, 241, 251
.51, 256, 257
46, 55, 58, 230
.172, 182, 242
.89, 100, 103, 104, 106, 152, 172, 227, 234
..77, 97, 98, 100, 108, 152
.99, 100, 103, 106, 152, 227
.87, 91, 92, 93, 95, 96, 152, 213, 217
.53, 91, 93, 95, 96, 152
.184, 185, 204
.46, 47, 51, 55, 56, 57, 88
103, 184, 186, 188, 224, 238