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Old State Capitol, Frankfort

#2 of 7 in Museums in Frankfort
Government Building · Hidden Gem · Architectural Building
The Old State Capitol, also known as Old Statehouse, was the third capitol of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The building is located in the Kentucky capital city of Frankfort and served as home of the Kentucky General Assembly from 1830 to 1910. The current Kentucky State Capitol was built in 1910. The Old State Capitol has served as a museum and the home of the Kentucky Historical Society since 1920. It has been restored to its American Civil War era appearance and was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1971 for its exceptional Greek Revival architecture, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Kentucky legislature voted for its construction in 1827. The building was designed in the Greek Revival style by Gideon Shryock, an early Lexington, Kentucky architect. The Old State Capitol was his first building and he was only twenty-five years old. Shryock chose the Greek Revival style to symbolically link Kentucky, a young republic, with ancient Greece, the prototype of popular democratic government. He wanted the front of the building to duplicate the Temple of Minerva Polias at Priene. Greek temples had no windows, therefore the front of the capitol is devoid of fenestration. Other architectural features include a self-supporting stone stairway and a domed lantern above it to bring in sunlight.

A bitterly contested 1899 state governor election came to a climax when Democratic claimant William Goebel of Covington, Kentucky was assassinated at the capitol on his way to be inaugurated. A plaque reading "William Goebel fell here, Jan. 30th, 1900" exists near the front entrance of the building.

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122 reviews
  • Kentucky‚Äôs old capitol building is as beautiful as she is rich with history. This gorgeous Greek Revival styled building was the only Union state capital seized by the confederacy during the civil...  more »
  • The museum is a wonderful piece of History. Your ticket gets you into 3 museums in Frankfort and all 3 museums were very good!  more »
  • Wonderful grounds and well-kept cold state capitol. Tours are very nice. We used to hold the annual KY Folklife Festival on these grounds, and along the KY River. It was a beautiful and well-attended event.
  • Surprisingly it was worth going a tour. I think there were only four people including myself. I enjoyed the history of the building and the stories that went along with it. I enjoyed the history about the one piece of furniture that they have on display.

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