One hundred years ago, the fate of the Jefferson City Capitol was uncertain. People watched from miles around as the one that was there burned to the ground.
In 1911, the pine dome of the capitol was 30 years old. A lighting strike hit the building and spread quickly. Capitol Historian Bob Priddy says the fire department came as quickly as their horses could carry them, but there wasn’t enough water pressure to douse the flames. Then, the water main broke, dousing all hope that the building could be saved.
He says everyone pitched in to try to get important documents out of the burning wreckage — towns-people, legislators, even inmates from the nearby state prison. Some of them were later pardoned by the Governor for their efforts in saving Missouri history. Many of those papers and artifacts are now kept at the State Archives.
The capitol building that stands now was built and decorated for $4.5 million dollars. But not before the legislature faced challenges to move the capitol to Sedalia and even West Plains.
Before the capitol was in Jefferson City, it occupied two locations in St. Louis and one in St. Charles.