The State of Michigan hasn't always had the capitol building we know today, of course. As our population grew and building construction evolved... so did our state capitol.

We'll share the location history and a few other nuggets of trivia you've probably never heard before.

See Also: What are "Blue Laws?" Does Michigan still have them?

Michigan Capitol Trivia

  • June 30, 1805, Michigan became a territory.
  • It wasn't until January 1837 the population reached a point to become a state.
Credit: Michigan.gov, Archives of Michigan
Credit: Michigan.gov, Archives of Michigan
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  • The Capitol dome was once illuminated with 736 light bulbs.
  • Once, the lighting inside the Capitol was provided by gas.
  • Some of the original "gas" chandeliers are still in use.
  • 976 pieces of glass are included in the rotunda floor.
  • There are fossils (millions of years old) in some floor tiles.
  • There's enough hand-painted art to stretch nine football fields (roughly nine acres)
  • Michigan's Capitol has over 200 rooms (many are very small)
  • The architect, Elija E. Myers, designed the Texas and Colorado State Capitols
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So, what about the location of Michigan's State Capitol?

Michigan's Capitol has changed buildings three times.

No, it wasn't always in Lansing. It was originally located in a small brick building known as the Territorial Courthouse.

Credit: Michigan.gov, Michigan State Capitol Archive, Lawler Collection
Credit: Michigan.gov, Michigan State Capitol Archive, Lawler Collection
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That location was in Detroit. So, how did it end up in Lansing?

Michigan's website gives four key reasons:

  • To increase the defensibility of the capital by moving it away from the Canadian border (remember, the British Troops were just across the border in Windsor).
  • To promote settlement in the inner regions of the state.
  • To make the capital more accessible to the people of the entire state, and
  • To boost the economy of the interior.

People weren't happy when it was decided to relocate.

The second city and second & third Capitol buildings.

Eventually, Lansing became the new State Capitol in March 1847.

Credit: Michigan.gov, Archives of Michigan
Credit: Michigan.gov, Archives of Michigan
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The second Capitol building (above) was much smaller than the one we know today.

The Capitol building we know today (number three) was constructed in the 1870s and finished in September of 1878 (below).

Credit: Google Street View
Credit: Google Street View
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The state has prioritized restoration efforts to preserve our history as this building doesn't seem to be moving anytime soon.

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