new-mexico-state-capitol
New Mexico State Capitol

New Mexico claims the distinction of having the oldest as well as one of the newest state capitols in the United States.  The oldest is the Palace of the Governors (See Fig. 1, pg. 119). Built in 1610 (ten years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock), it was the seat of nearly three centuries of government—Spanish, Mexican and American. It is now a museum on the plaza.

In 1886 a new territorial capitol was built on the south side of the Santa Fe River but six years later a mysterious fire burned it to the ground.  The building was four stories high, with rounded corners and topped by colossal bronze statues representing Liberty, Justice, Industry and Commerce.

The next capitol was completed June 4, 1900 for an incredibly low cost of $140,000 and was a three story silver-domed edifice.  Various additions were built adjacent to this building and then in 1950 a major renovation got underway to unify the architectural appearance of all the buildings in this complex to territorial style.  At that time the dome was removed and that building is now known as the Bataan Memorial Building.

A blend of New Mexico territorial style, Greek revival adaptations and Pueblo Indian adobe architecture comprise the design of the newest capitol.  The round structure is modified to form the Indian Sun Symbol (the Zia symbol which appears on the state flag) and includes four levels, one of which is below ground.  Dedicated on December 8, 1966, it contains 232,346 square feet and was built for the cost of $4,676,860 or $20.00 per square foot.  A recent renovation, completed in 1992, focused on removing existing asbestos, making the building more energy and space efficient as well as becoming more handicapped accessible.  The State Capitol Annex, formerly the building housing the State Library, sits adjacent to the Capitol and is connected with an attractive passageway.

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