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In 1838 the General Assembly created a three-member commission to oversee the construction of a new statehouse to replace the original brick government structures built when Columbus had been chosen as the permanent state capital in 1812. The commission advertised a design competition throughout Ohio and the great eastern cities, and received sixty submissions.  As required by the competition program and reflecting the optimism of the young American democracy, all three winning designs were Greek Revival in style and featured porticoes, square pilasters separating window bays, and a centralized cupola. The construction took twenty-two years, withstood several bureaucratic delays, and witnessed the contributions of numerous architects. Nevertheless, the finished Ohio limestone Statehouse is remarkably true to the original conception.  A case in point is its conical-roofed cupola, which, unlike those of many statehouses throughout the country and the Capitol in Washington, is not derived from a dome form, but rather from the ancient Greek tholos temple, and the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens.  Meanwhile, the harmony that exists between the exteriors of the Statehouse and its Senate Annex, built of the same local limestone fifty years later, is a testament of how buildings can grow within a cognate design language over time.

In the 1990s the Statehouse complex underwent a $116 million renovation and restoration, including construction of a new Capitol Atrium between the Statehouse and Annex. This glassy addition features locally quarried limestone, elegant skylights, and custom light fixtures.  A large marble map of Ohio is a popular feature in the lower-level Visitor’s Center. Inside the Statehouse, workers have removed alterations made during the building’s 140-year life. For instance, the Capitol originally had 53 rooms, all of which had natural lighting; when the renovation began, it had 317 rooms. The original 53 have been restored.

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