Colorado State Capital - A Reflection of Colorado's History and Architecture

June 4, 2023


Welcome to an exploration of the unique building that houses the Legislature and Governor of the Colorado State Government. This architectural masterpiece stands as a testament to Colorado's rich history and the spirit of its early settlers. In this article, we will delve into the captivating story behind the construction, design, and significance of this remarkable structure.

The Birth of Colorado

To understand the roots of the Colorado State Capitol, we must first journey back to the land's acquisition by the United States. Colorado's eastern half became part of the United States through the famous Louisiana Purchase, while the western portion was ceded by Mexico after the Mexican–American War. Native tribes such as the Ute, Arapaho, Jicarilla Apache, Comanche, and Navaho had long called this area home. However, the arrival of European Americans led to demographic shifts, displacing and dispossessing the original inhabitants.

The Gold Rush and Early Development

The discovery of gold veins near present-day Denver and Boulder in 1858 sparked the renowned Colorado Gold Rush. Prospectors from various backgrounds flocked to the region, including white miners, merchants, and families. Seeking their fortune, they ventured into what was then part of the Territory of Kansas. As the population grew, locals organized the Jefferson Territory, a bid for political independence. Eventually, in 1861, the U.S. Congress established Colorado as an official territory.

A Monumental Undertaking

The construction of the Colorado State Capitol was an ambitious endeavor. Initially projected to cost $1,000,000 in 1886 (equivalent to $26,400,000 in 2020), the final price tag amounted to $3,700,000 (equivalent to $97,400,000 in 2020). The original designer, E.E. Myers, was fired due to successive cost overruns, leading to the completion of the capitol under the guidance of Frank Edbrooke in 1901. Myers had been incentivized by a commission based on a percentage of the total construction cost, creating an atmosphere where no expense was spared.

Symbolism and Architecture

The Colorado State Capitol bears significant symbolism and draws inspiration from the nation's history. In 1876, the year of Colorado's founding, the state was christened the "Centennial State" to commemorate the nation's centennial celebration. This association with America's past was further reinforced when builders laid the cornerstone of the Capitol on July 4th, 1890. Architecturally, the capitol intentionally mirrors the neoclassical "Greek Cross" design of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. It proudly showcases various types of native Colorado marble, including the ultra-dense Yule marble and the captivating Rose Onyx, a metamorphosed limestone enriched with iron oxide.

A Golden Reflection

The allure of the gold rush, despite its limited success for the majority, played a significant role in Colorado's early development. This intriguing history is beautifully reflected in the architecture of the Capitol. Adorning the building is a magnificent golden dome, a striking feature added in 1908. Miners, in commemoration of the 1858 gold rush, donated 200 ounces of gold to gild the dome. The original copper dome that had been erected during the initial construction was deemed insufficiently grand by the people of Colorado. Over the years, the Capitol has undergone several upgrades to enhance safety, incorporate new technologies, and ensure comfort.

A Dynamic Administrative Center

Today, the Colorado State Capitol building in Denver serves as the administrative hub of a state that has outgrown its gold mining past, transforming into a dynamic and economically diverse entity. The Capitol stands as a symbol of Colorado's progress and prosperity, encapsulating both its historical legacy and its present achievements.


The Colorado State Capitol is a remarkable building that embodies the spirit and history of the state. From its architectural design influenced by the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to the use of native Colorado marble and the iconic golden dome, every aspect of the structure tells a story. It reflects the dreams of early settlers who sought wealth during the gold rush and the resilience of a state that has evolved into a thriving administrative center.

Through its grandeur and historical significance, the Colorado State Capitol invites visitors to appreciate the rich heritage of Colorado and the remarkable journey that has shaped the state into what it is today.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the significance of the Colorado State Capitol building?

The Colorado State Capitol serves as the administrative center of the state government. Its architecture and construction reflect the history and spirit of early Colorado, showcasing the state's progress and prosperity.

Why is the Colorado State Capitol modeled after the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.? The intentional design resemblance to the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., symbolizes Colorado's connection to the nation and its commitment to upholding democratic principles.

What materials were used in the construction of the Colorado State Capitol?

The Capitol extensively utilizes various types of native Colorado marble, including the ultra-dense Yule marble and the captivating Rose Onyx, giving the building a distinct aesthetic appeal.

What is the significance of the golden dome on the Colorado State Capitol?

The golden dome represents the allure of the gold rush that played a pivotal role in Colorado's early development. It is a testament to the state's history and the aspirations of its early settlers.

How has the Colorado State Capitol evolved over the years?

The Capitol has undergone several upgrades to ensure safety, incorporate modern technologies, and provide enhanced comfort for its occupants and visitors.

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