You now stand at the Indiana State House, the seat of Indiana government. When Indiana first became a state in 1816, its capitol was located in Southern Indiana in the city of Corydon. In 1824, the capitol was relocated to Indianapolis.
Pathways of ideas and civic participation
The first capitol building in Indianapolis was constructed on the same location where the current capitol building stands. That building was completed in 1835. However, when part of the roof collapsed in 1867 the building was condemned. It was demolished eleven years later. Construction on the capitol building you now see was completed in 1888 at a cost of $1.9 million dollars. The capitol building houses the Indiana Legislature as well as the state supreme court. Thousands of people have traveled to Indianapolis since 1888 to attend Gubernatorial inaugurations and speeches, testify at legislative committee meetings, attend Supreme Court cases, and demonstrate in support or protest of controversial laws and measures passed at the State House.
As you walk the grounds of the capitol, think about the significance of the many social and political events that have taken place here. Also, take note of the large collection of monuments that you see. If you tour the inside of the building, you can also see the many busts that adorn the alcoves that surround the rotunda. These include William English (1822-1896), a state House representative and later U.S. House representative, as well as Julia Carson (1938-2007), one of the first African American women to serve in the State Senate. He was instrumental in planning the construction of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis. The Indiana State House has seen many significant social and political events and decisions. In 1865, President Lincoln’s body lay in state at the State House, and in recent years, the capitol has been the site of political protests and rallies surrounding issues such as public education (2011), same sex marriage (2014), gun laws (2013), and workers’ rights (2011).
The State House also provides opportunities for people to witness the legislative process. The Legislative Information Center, which “provides legislative information to the public, state and local government, and the news media,” is located on the main floor of the building. Here, computer terminals make information about the current status of legislation available to the public. Similarly, the House and Senate Galleries, both located on the fourth floor, allow the public to view the activity in the House and Senate when the legislature is in session. The Indiana State House stands as a symbol of pathways of statewide and civic political discourse.