State Capitol Preservation and Restoration Commission


The Connecticut State Capitol

The current building, completed in 1880, is the third capitol building for the State of Connecticut since the American Revolution.

The General Assembly had met alternately in Hartford and New Haven since before the Revolution. When in Hartford, the General Assembly met in the Old State HouseState Capitol, designed in 1792 by Charles Bulfinch, and when sitting in New Haven, in a state house designed in 1827 by Ithiel Town. After the Civil War, the complications of this plan began to be evident, and both Hartford and New Haven competed to be sole state capital. Hartford won, and the new sole capital needed one central capitol building. The General Assembly authorized a million dollar project, and two competitors, James G. Batterson and Richard M. Upjohn vied to be awarded the project. Upjohn won, but Batterson, a stone importer and merchant and not an architect, was named the building contractor. Batterson then continually revised the Upjohn plan to more and more closely resemble his own plan. The central tower, for example, is Batterson's, not Upjohn's. Batterson's extensive elaboration of Upjohn's plan ended up more than doubling the cost to over $2,500,000.

Richard M. Upjohn described the building as "modern secular Gothic." Construction of the building began in 1871. The building was completed in 1878, and it opened for the session of the General Assembly in January 1879. The New York Times noted when it was completed, that the new building was "a vast mass of white marble (is) this imposing structure, and in the dazzling sunshine of a New-England Summer noon sparkles like a fairy palace of frost-work."

Read an 1874 review of the construction of the Capitol from The Manufacturer and Builder

The site of the Capitol was chosen since it is adjacent to Bushnell Park, and had access to more surrounding open space than the older building (the Old State House) in the immediate downtown. The site was originally the location of Trinity College and was then known as Trinity Hill, and the city street to the immediate east is still named Trinity Street. (The college relocated to a new campus south of Hartford's downtown.)

Hall of Flags

There are some galleries of historical artifacts on the building's main floor, principally battle standards of Civil War units.

The flags were deposited with the state by 10,000 of the state's veterans, who formed a procession to the capitol, and deposited 30 regimental flags on September 17, 1879.

The building suffered some crowding of offices, and the introduction of partition walls and other temporary expedients which detracted from the plan of the building up to 1979 and 1989 when efforts began at restoration.

Read an article from March 1977 that describes pre-renovation treasures discovered at the Capitol.

The State Capitol was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1971.

State Capitol with Clock Tower
The original architectural plans included a clock tower. It was decided later to build a dome, which was not a Gothic Style feature.


The building is one of the largest and most remarkable Gothic Style buildings. The exterior is East Canaan, Connecticut marble and granite from Westerly, Rhode Island. The building is roughly rectangular, the interior spaces organized around two open interior courtBuilding Statuess that run vertically to large skylights. In the center is a third circular open rotunda beneath the dome. The hall of the House of Representatives forms an extension on the south side.

The building's ornately decorated facades displays statuary and includes several statues, medallions and carved tympana over the doors (except the west, which only has statues). The statues are of political and social figures important to the state's history, such as the founder of Connecticut, the Reverend Thomas Hooker (c. 1586-1647), Governor John Winthrop, Jr. (1605/1606-1676), Roger Sherman (1721-1793), Revolutionary War Governor Jonathan Trumbull (1710-1785), Noah Webster (1758-1843), General Joseph Hawley (1826-1905), Civil War Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles (1802-1878), and United States Senator Orville Hitchcock Platt (1827-1905). There are 24 niches for sculpture (8 of which are still empty). The last one added was that of Ella T. Grasso, the first female Governor of the State, who died in 1981 shortly after resigning her office.

There are high relief scenes from the state's history in the 16 tympana above the doors (except for the carving above the main Statuesnorth door, which is of the state seal). The typanum of the main east door is "The Charter Oak" by Charles Salewski, was the first piece of sculpture created for the Capitol. The interior floors used white marble and red slate from Connecticut, and some of the colored marble is from Italy.

The statues, medallions and tympana are grouped by period. The north facade has 6 statues, 5 tympana, and two medallions, and the carvings are of pre-Revolutionary War figures. The east and west facades contains people from the Revolutionary War or government service, and the south facade's figures are from the Civil War and onwards.

The central domed tower is distinctive. The dome itself is 32 feet tall, on top of that is a cupola 55 feet in height, and the drum below is 75 feet, making the drum taller than the 70 foot height of the main walls. The overall height is of the tower is 257 feet (81.4 m). At the exterior base of the dome are 12 statues in six pairs representing Agriculture, Commerce, Education/Law, Force/War, Science/Justice, and Music.

The building's dome originally had a large statue on top of it, named 'The Genius of Connecticut', which was taken down in 1938 after being damaged in the severe hurricane of that year.

The statue was cast in bronze from a plaster original, and was 17 feet, 10 inches tall, and weighed 3.5 tons. It executed in Rome, Italy, and was cast in Munich,Germany.Capitol Dome

During World War II, the piece was donated to the federal government and melted down as part of the war effort to make ammunition and machine parts. The original plaster statue is now at the capitol, and has been coated in a bronze finish.

In 2002, Proposed Bill No. 5273 before the General Assembly sought authorization to make a new casting of the statue to restore the design for the capitol dome. While this bill was not enacted, three years later Special Act 05-1 of the June Special Session provided a $300,000 bond authorization for the Joint Commission on Legislative Management to acquire a new statute. This has been accomplished, with the new statue being delivered in December, 2009.

The new Genius of Connecticut has not yet been mounted on the summit of the dome, awaiting an additional $200,000 in funding. In the meanwhile, she is on display in the rotunda on the main floor of the Capitol just feet away from her plaster of paris nemesis.

Online map views of Connecticut's State Capitol at 210 Capitol Avenue, Hartford:
Bird's eye views facing north showing South Front from MS Bing;
and 3D view from Google Maps;
3D model
from Google 3D warehouse