For many years after its 1870 construction, Nevada's capitol building stood a lonely vigil in the center of Carson City. Grounds for the capitol complex had been set aside by town father Abe Curry, but Nevada started out small, and the need for big government had not developed.
Now, more than 130 years later, the building is still used, standing as a testament to the foresight of Nevada's founding fathers. Other grand Carson City buildings surround the capitol, marking the incredible growth of Nevada's capital city. But the capitol building, constructed of native sandstone, holds the special designation of second oldest capitol building west of the Mississippi River.
Today the capitol complex in the heart of Carson City provides a picturesque campus setting which includes the State Capitol, Legislative Building, Supreme Court, and State Library and Archives. What was once a dusty, sometimes muddy, pit in the middle of a growing frontier town, is now lush with native plant species and buildings of impressive architectural detail.
When the ambitious founders of Carson City laid out the town in 1858, they had dreams of a new territory, and then a new state to follow. Ten acres, known as the Plaza, was set aside in the belief that Carson City would be chosen as the capital of a new government in western Utah Territory.
The demands of the Civil War pushed the creation of the Nevada Territory in 1861 and the territorial legislature selected the fledging community of Carson City as its capital.
In that first decade the Plaza remained empty. Statehood in 1864 saw Carson City become the state capital of Nevada, but the constitutional convention made a provision that no state capitol would be built until after three legislative sessions had passed. Some people still believed that the capital would be moved to a more central location in the new state.
Luckily that did not happen. The building was commissioned in 1869 and built the following year. Additions, including the breezeway-connected library, and, in 1913, wings on the north and south sides, have significantly changed the building's look.