Arkansas State Capitol

Little Rock
Completed: 1915
Architect: George Mann

Photo: Robert Deering 6/17/2014

The construction of Arkansas State Capitol began in 1899 and took 16 years to complete. The Capitol was built on the site of the state penitentiary and prisioners helped construct the building, living in a dormitory that was left on the Capitol grounds while construction was taking place. The Neoclassical structure is 230 feet tall, featuring a circular drum tower that is capped with a dome and cupola. The cupola is covered in 24 karat gold leaf. The exterior of the Capitol is limestone, which was quarried in Batesville, Arkansas. The front doors are made of bronze, and are 10 feet tall, four inches thick, and were purchased from Tiffany's in New York. The Old State House still stands and is used as the State Museum of Arkansas. It was completed in 1845, and was designed and built by Gideon Shyrock.


ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: French interpretation of a Sioux word "acansa," meaning "downstream place."


STATE MOTTO: Regnat populus (The people rule)

1874 PREAMBLE: We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...

LOCATION: 500 Woodlane Dr, Little Rock, AR 72201


Robert and Cheryl Deering
In Front of the Arkansas State Capitol
Photo: Ferdie Deering 1953

Old Capitol Building

Little Rock
Completed: 1842
Architect: Gideon Shyrock & George Weigart

Photo: Robert Deering 6/17/2014

The Old State House is a historic building in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is the oldest surviving state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. It was commissioned by Territorial Governor John Pope and was constructed between 1833 and 1842. Architect Gideon Shryock, who had previously designed the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, chose a Greek Revival style for the building. The original design was too expensive for the territory, so Shyrock's assistant George Weigart changed the plans and oversaw construction.

Both houses of the Arkansas General Assembly moved into the building while construction was ongoing. In 1837 a fatal knife fight between legislators in the Arkansas House of Representatives occurred in the legislative chamber.

During the American Civil War the building was used by Union troops occupying Little Rock. During Reconstruction the building was an object of contention in the so-called Brooks-Baxter War and the building was fortified during that struggle. The "Lady Baxter" cannon still remains on the grounds.

The building was used as the official state capitol until the new capitol building was constructed in 1912.

For a time the Old State House was used as a medical school.  Later it was renamed as the Arkansas War Memorial and was used as an office building for federal and state agencies as well as a meeting place for patriotic organizations.  In 1947 the General Assembly approved acts designating the Old State House as a museum. The building underwent major renovation in 1996.

The building continues to serve as a museum with exhibits related to Arkansas history and culture. Permanent collections include Civil War battle flags, the inaugural gowns of governors' wives, Arkansas art pottery, and African-American quilts. Special exhibits are staged periodically as well. 

LOCATION:  300 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72201