Upon the destruction of the Old Capitol Building in 1897, the sense of loss was quickly replaced by a new spirit of community advancement for which the construction of a new Capitol Building would act as catalyst. in order to continue the operations of state government, a plain and unadorned interim Capitol, designed by Henry Ives Cobb, was hastily erected on a "shoe-string" budget on the same site as the old. Public criticism of this building resulted in the establishment of the Capitol Building Commission in 1901, charged to methodically plan for the expansion and elaboration of Cobb's interim structure that would be cloaked within the walls of the new building. Philadelphia architect Joseph Miller Huston won the design competition. His intent was to design a Capitol that applied the artistic expression of the Italian Renaissance to a new Renaissance in America. With the 272 foot high dome modeled after that of Michelangelo's St. Peter's in Rome, and the main stairway in the rotunda after the Grand Opera House in Paris, a building emerged that was magnificent...a "Palace of Art," rich with marble, gold, tile, murals and sculpture produced by such internationally prominent artists, sculptures and artisans as Abbey, Barnard, Oakley, Van Ingen and Mercer. Heralded by President Theodore Roosevelt upon its dedication on October 4, 1905 as "the handsomeness building I ever saw," the Capitol's grandeur, which may endlessly be described, unleashed an unparalleled movement of civic improvement and pride in Harrisburg that would build the foundations of the great City that we know today.
The unadorned interim Capitol Building in 1901.
1908 Postcard View of the Present State Capitol Building