Preservation and Restoration of the Capitol
The Nebraska State Capitol, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 is also a Registered National Historic Landmark. Within the Capitol all areas are either Preservation Space or Adaptive Use Space.
Bison Carving in Governor’s Suite
Preservation Spaces are those areas which possess a high degree of architectural finish and are primarily the ceremonial and public areas of the building, such as: Vestibule, Foyer and Rotunda; the Supreme and Appeals Court Rooms and Consultation Rooms; the East and West Legislative Chambers and Lounges; the Governor’s Suite; the Memorial Chamber; as well as the public corridors, the courtyards and Capitol grounds. Adaptive Use Spaces are those which comprise the remaining space, generally office and meeting or hearing room areas.
The Preservation and Restoration activities within the Capitol emphasize the value of the historic character of the building through sensitive preservation and replication of the original building design and finishes. As well, the Preservation program is very involved in planning and installation of new technology within the building while maintaining great sensitivity toward preserving the original building design and finishes.
In 1999 the Nebraska State Capitol Landscape was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark. This designation recognizes Bertram Goodhue’s intent that the setting for the Capitol play an important role in its monumental stature. Ernst Herminghaus, Nebraska’s first professionally trained Landscape Architect, designed the Capitol Landscape plan to enhance the character of the building as viewed from the site and beyond. An approved restoration plan for the Capitol Grounds guides all restoration of this historic landscape.
Bertram Goodhue’s original 1920 Capitol design concept included the setting for his building within the capital city. Goodhue planned four formal boulevard approaches to the Capitol from the north, south, east and west on axis with the site and Capitol tower. The Capitol’s four square block site is located at the intersection of two principal streets which form the south and east edges of the business district.
In 1987 a joint city-state Nebraska Capitol Environs Commission was created with statutory authority to oversee preservation and enhancement of the Capitol Environs District. The District is a fifty-four square block area which includes the Capitol site, the ring of blocks surrounding the site, and Goodhue’s four axial boulevards, or malls. The Capitol area and the city blocks which line both sides of the boulevards, or malls, define the formal setting of the Capitol in the city.
Within the District, the Commission has statutory authority to set guidelines and oversee architectural, landscape and urban design issues, such as, building heights and setbacks, and building and landscape material requirements. In addition to the Environs District, the Commission has design review authority for City and Country View Corridors which preserve views of the Capitol from within the city and from as distant as twenty miles. The Commission meets monthly to review design issues and projects such as a planned north mall redevelopment linking the Capitol to the University of Nebraska-City Campus, and the development of a bicycle/pedestrian trail which enhances a principal Capitol view corridor from Lincoln’s largest park.
To assist in the preservation and restoration, as well as the daily operation, of the Nebraska State Capitol, the Office of the Capitol Commission employs a variety of skilled craftspeople and professionals. The OCC includes preservation architects, an archivist, a mason, a hardware conservator, and furniture conservators. Specially trained maintenance, cabinetry, grounds and custodial staff provide for the daily care and maintenance of the Capitol with an emphasis on preserving the historic character and finishes of the building and its landscape.
Those individuals or groups wishing to contribute to the preservation and restoration of the landmark Nebraska State Capitol and Landscape are encouraged to make tax deductible donations to the Capitol Restoration Fund, or the private, non-profit Nebraska Capitol Foundation. The Capitol Restoration Fund is a special state government account which funds restoration programs and projects in the building and on its site. The Nebraska Capitol Foundation was created to support the preservation and restoration of the Capitol and its site. As well, the Foundation promotes historic and cultural aspects of the building, through education and outreach programs. The Capitol Foundation also supports the work of the Capitol Environs Commission. For information or to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact the Administrator of the Office of the Capitol Commission, Nebraska State Capitol, 7th Floor, P.O. Box 94696, Lincoln, NE 68509-4696. Phone (402)471-6691 or fax (402)471-6952.
Are You Interested in Seeing the Building in Person?We're open 7 days a week, so plan a visit here. Then, explore some photos and perhaps read more about the Memorial Chamber.
The architect who designed the Nebraska State Capitol was Bertram Goodhue. The thematic program of the Capitol was developed by Dr. Hartley Burr Alexander. Sculptor for the Capitol was Lee Lawrie, and Hildreth Meiere designed all the floor and ceiling mosaics. The building was constructed over a ten year period in four building phases. Construction began in 1922 and was completed in 1932. Total cost of the building was just under $10 million.
Capitol quick facts
- Construction started in 1922, completed in 1932.
- The architect was Bertram G. Goodhue.
- There are 15 floors above ground.
- The building is 400 feet tall.
- It is the third Nebraska State Capitol.
- It cost $9.8 million in 1932 dollars.
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