Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Back in the day, April 15, 1922: Ground is broken for construction of Nebraska State Capitol
editor's pick topical alert

Back in the day, April 15, 1922: Ground is broken for construction of Nebraska State Capitol

  • 0

Video courtesy of the Nebraska State Historical Society

Construction of the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln began on this day 99 years ago.

The "Roaring Twenties" allowed the State Legislature to be brave. The then-two-house body authorized $5 million in 1919, but when its members saw how grand their Capitol could be, they doubled the amount to $10 million. The building, at 1445 K St., was constructed from 1922 through 1932 and was designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, of Philadelphia, one of America's foremost architects.

The structure evolved through an elaborate competition that was widely publicized in journals and newspapers. If Thomas Kimball, a nationally known Omaha architect, had not managed the bidding of this competition, eminent architects such as Goodhue, probably would not have responded. 

Goodhue's design incorporated a 400-foot tower as the major architectural feature, producing a modernistic skyscraper.  The tower required newly designed steel. Without Dakota sandstone bedrock, the tower could not be supported. The combination of bold design and high artistry was unique in the 1920s.

If construction of the tower had been attempted 20 years earlier, the technology and equipment would not have been available. Twenty years later, too few hand stone craftsmen would have been available. 

Topping the dome is not a prairie pioneer sowing seed but an ag worker from an ancient civilization, with Egyptian headband, stating that agriculture connects the centuries. 

As a nod to Nebraska’s predominant industry, New York sculptor Lee Lawrie created “The Sower” sculpture — a 19½-foot figure on a 12½-foot pedestal of bundles of wheat and corn — as an integral part of the State Capitol’s architecture. 

The Nebraska Capitol is internationally recognized as a building of architectural distinction.


Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News