State Capital and Capitol

There have been four capital cities in North Carolina. The original capital city was Bath, the oldest town in North Carolina. From 1705 to 1722, Bath was the capital of the colony of North Carolina. In 1722, Edenton became the capital city. In 1743, New Bern was established as the capital city. During the American Revolution, New Bern, a coastal city, was attacked and the British laid seige to it. The site was no longer optimal for a capital city. Raleigh was chosen as the capital city in 1788. Centrally located, it seemed to be better protected than a coastal city would be. The city was officially established in 1792. Part of the reason it was chosen was it's nearness to Isaac Hunter's Tavern. The tavern was frequented by state legislators. Raleigh was one of the few city sites planned and built specifically to serve as a state capital. Original boundaries were formed by the streets of North, East, West and South. The plan is based upon Thomas Holme's plan for Philadelphia created in 1682. The first meeting of the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh was in Dec 1794.

A simple two-story brick State House was built on Union Square between 1792 and 1796. State Architect William Nichols enlarged the building between 1820 and 1824. At that time, a third floor and east and west wings were added to the building. A rotunda was also added to house the George Washington statue acquired by the state in 1821. In 1831, the building burned and the George Washington statue was burned beyond repair. The General Assembly voted to rebuild the buiding as an enlarged version of the original. The cornerstone of the State Capitol was laid 4 Jul 1833 by the Grand Master of North Carolina Masons Simmons Jones Baker. Once completed, the entire state government was housed in its walls until 1888, when the Supreme Court and State Library moved. In 1963, the legislature moved to the North Carolina State Legislature Building. When the Supreme Court underwent renovation in 2005, it was temporarily located in the Capitol. The building remains generally unaltered since 1840, except for remodeling to add restrooms and an elevator. In 1973, the Capitol was declared a National Historic Landmark.

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