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Iowa City's Old Capitol Building: A History Buff's Delight
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Iowa City's Old Capitol Building: A History Buff's Delight

Your holiday in Iowa would not be complete without a visit to Iowa City’s Old Capitol building, especially for those travelers who love to absorb local history. Situated on the Pentacrest, this imposing building dates from 1839 to 1849 when the state capitol was relocated to Des Moines.

A New Role

The Old Capitol building then found a new role from around 1857 to 1863 when it played host to Iowa City’s university. At one time the building housed an armoury, classrooms and a library together with staff living quarters. The four university buildings that now surround it are later additions and form the X-shaped ‘Pentacrest’, another notable local landmark.


In the early 1970's it was decided to restore the Old Capitol building to its original form as state capitol, and the university facility contained within the building was relocated and the building was opened to the public.

In 1976 the building was declared a National Historic Landmark. Unfortunately, in 2001 tragedy struck and there was a fire which totally destroyed the building’s impressive dome and its bell. Extensive restoration work was carried out to try to repair the considerable water damage sustained in the fire, and the building is now a popular and interesting place to visit on your tour of Iowa City.

Notable highlights are the lovely wooden staircase in the imposing entrance hall, the Governor’s office, and other state offices. For history buffs there is a fascinating video display telling the history of Iowa City and the Old Capitol building.

Opening hours

The Old Capitol building is unfortunately closed on public holidays but otherwise is open on:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 5pm

Thursday from 10am to 8pm

Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.

Admission is free of charge and further details are available at this link: Old Capitol Building.


Image source: Flickr

Leave a Comment

  1. Travel Iowa Team
    Travel Iowa Team
    Thanks for blogging about Iowa's rich history! You can see your Pin here:
    Log in to reply.
  2. Honey456
    You have shared great information about this city attraction. I appreciate you for this effort. I am also a big lover of attractive places around the world. For this purpose, I recently came back from wall street tourist attractions tour with my a college team. After spending some time, I will try to see this old building with my cousins. I hope, I will enjoy there a lot.
    Log in to reply.


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