New York State Capitol

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The New York State Capitol is a massive building with many awe-inspiring features. It makes a bold, self-assured statement about the state's power and wealth. Even though it's surrounded by other notable buildings in downtown Albany, it's grandeur is not diminished in the least.

The building's interior contains long, tiled halls, lofty ceilings, robust archways, heavy wooden doors, and rich decorative touches. In addition to the marvels of the Senate and House chambers, the three large and lavishly decorated stone stairways—not least of which is The Great Western Staircase—are especially noteworthy.

The history of the New York State Capitol's construction is long and full of controversy. Begun in 1867 to replace a smaller building that the state government had outgrown, major construction continued until 1899. The building was declard complete even though it was never truly finished according to the plans. Four chief architects had a hand in designing the building and the structure is sometimes criticized for being something of a hodgepodge of the various styles.

The first architect, Thomas Fuller, conceived of the building in a Renaissance style using the Hôtel de Ville in Paris as a model. The building was begun according to Fuller's plan, but after much delay and expense, Fuller was ultimately dismissed.

Prior to Fuller's dismissal, Henry Hobson Richardson had been appointed to an advisory board along with Leopold Eidlitz and Fredrick Law Olmsted. The advisory board criticized Fuller's design and drew up plans of their own which were then accepted over Fuller's work. The new plans called for fundamental changes which resulted in the building's exterior becoming a mixture of Renaissance and Romanesque styles.

In 1883 Grover Cleveland became Governor of New York. After reviewing the cost of construction, he hired Isaac Perry to take over its direction. Perry was responsible for completing the building, although Eidlitz and Richardson remained consultants on the project and their influence continued.

The New York State Capitol was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1979. It is still used by the state legislature which performs much of its duties there. The building is currently undergoing large scale renovations.

Washington Ave and State Street
Albany, NY 12247


Mark Randall Jan 04, 2012
Do you know if the engraved doors survived the fire of 1911 that Perry commissioned James Sherwood to carve. I have been transcribing the diary of Sherwood who wrote them during the Civil War years when he fought and was wounded. He doodled some of the wood furniture that he forraged from the Louisiana plantations and I wondered if there was any corrolation. When Perry wanted to the best woodcarver he was recommended by his foreman at the woodcarving factory in Norwich. He worked on the panels for over two years there in Albany.
Robert A Johnson Oct 17, 2013
I have heard that the distinguished Italian-American muralist, Ignacio La Russa, (1887-1963)contributed
work to the New York State Capital buildings. Have you any information on the above?

Robert A Johnson Sr
3545 Edson Avenue
Bronx, New York 10466
Tom LaRussa May 09, 2014
I am the grandson of Ignacio LaRussa and would also like to know if any of my grandfather's artwork can be found anywhere in any of the Capitol buildings.
Coleen Hopkins Aug 19, 2014
I have been told that my Great Grandfather, William W. Furniss worked on the Capitol building. He was a stone carver from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Unfortunately, that is all the information I have. I would appreciate any information that might be available. Thank you.
John Barber Feb 18, 2015
I seek to know the name of the sculptor of the Genl Butterfield bronze bust at the Governor's reception room. Can you help?
Alicia Johnson White Jun 07, 2015
To Tom LaRussa my great uncle is now leaving in one home your grandfather built in the Bronx.
William Aug 04, 2015
Does anyone have any information on the property that the capital building was built on.
jane D. Schultz- Klockman Aug 13, 2016
Do you have information about hand painted dutch tiles that formed a wainscot in the rotunda. They were being removed circa 1953 during a renovation of the area..
I saved some of the tiles. then considered of no value.At the time, I was on the staff of the newly formed State University of New York, located in the capitol building.
Betty Diehl Heller Oct 29, 2016
I have been told by family that my great-grandfather Christian Diehl was a woodcarver that did carvings on the building. Is there any documentary of that?