The need for larger quarters for legislators and their respective
staffs, and the growth of services provided by the legislative
branch of government led the General Assembly of 1959 to appropriate
funds for the formation of a Building Commission for the construction
of a new building for the Legislature. A statute creating such
a commission was ratified on June 12, 1959. It was to "consist
of two persons who have served in the State Senate, appointed
by the President of the Senate; two persons who have served in
the House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the
House of Representatives; and three persons appointed by the
Lieutenant Governor Luther E. Barnhardt, President of the Senate,
appointed Archie K. Davis and Robert F. Morgan, who was elected
Vice-Chairman of the Commission; Speaker of the House Addison
Hewlett appointed B. I. Satterfield and Thomas J. White, who
was elected Chairman of the Commission; and Governor Luther Hodges
appointed A. E. Finley, Edwin Gill, and Oliver R. Rowe. In addition
to these members, Paul A. Johnston, Director of the Department
of Administration, was elected Executive Secretary. The Commission
elected Frank B.Turner, State Property Officer as Executive Secretary
upon the resignation of Mr. Johnson.
The Commission selected Edward Durell Stone of New York with
John S. Holloway and Ralph B. Reeves, Jr., Associated as the
After a thorough study by the Commission, a site for construction
was selecteda 5-1/2 acre area one block north of the Capitol.
This site, encompassing two blocks, is bounded by Jones, Salisbury,
Lane and Wilmington Streets. A section of Halifax Street between
Jones and Lane was closed and made a part of the new site.
Bids on the new building were received in December, 1960 and
constrution began early the following year. The 1961 General
Assembly appropriated an additional $1 million for furnishings
and equipment. This brought the total appropriation to $5.5 million
or $1.24 for each citizen of North Carolina. (This figure based
on the 1960 census.)
One of the consulting architects wrote the following description
of the new building:
"The State Legislative Building, though not an imitation
of historic classical styles, is classical in character. Rising
from a 340 foot wide podium of North Carolina granite, the building
proper is 242 feet square. The walls and the columns are of Vermont
marble, the latter forming a colonnade encompassing the building
and reaching 24 feet from the podium to the roof of the second
"Inset in the south podium floor, at the main entrance,
is a 28 foot diameter terrazzo mosaic of the Great Seal of the
State. From the first floor main entrance (at Jones Street) the
carpeted 22 foot wide main stair extends directly to the third
floor and the public galleries of the Senate and House, the auditorium,
the display area, and the roof gardens.
"The four garden courts are located at the corners of the
building. These courts contain tropical plants, and three have
pools, fountains, and hanging planters. The main floor areas
of the courts are located in the first floor, and messanines
overlook the courts from the second floor. The skylights which
provide natural lighting are located within the roof gardens
overhead. The courts provide access to committee rooms in the
first floor, the legislative chambers in the second floor, and
to members' offices in both floors.
"The Senate and House chambers, each 5,180 square feet
in area, occupy the east and west wings of the second floor.
Following the traditional relationship of the two chambers in
the Capitol, the two spaces are divided by the rotunda; and when
the main brass doors are open, the two presiding officers face
one another. Each pair of brass doors weigh 1,500 pounds.
"The five pyramidal roofs covering the Senate and House
chambers, the auditorium, the main stair, and the rotunda are
sheathed with copper, as is the Capitol. The pyramidal shape
of the roofs is visible in the pointed ceilings inside. The structural
ribs form a coffered ceiling; and inside the coffered patterns,
concentric patterns are outlined in gold. In each chamber, the
distance from the floor to the peak of the ceiling is 45 feet.
"Chandeliers in the chambers and main stair are 8 feet in
diameter and weigh 625 pounds each. The 12 foot diameter chandelier
of the rotunda, like the others, is of brass, but its weight
is 750 pounds.
"Because of the interior environment, the garden courts
and rotunda have tropical plants and trees. Outside, however,
the shrubs and trees are of an indigenous type. Among the trees
in the gounds, on the roof areas are sugar maples, dogwoods,
crabapples, magnolias, crepe myrtles, and pines.
"Throughout the building, the same color scheme is maintained:
Walnut, white, gold and red, with green foliage. In general,
all wood is American walnut, metal is brass or other gold colored
material, carpets are red, and upholstery is gold or black.
"The enclosed area consists of 206,000 square feet of floor
area with a volume of 3,210,000 cubic feet. Heating equipment
provides over 7,000,000 B.T.U. per hour; and the cooling equipment
has a capaciy of 620 tons. For lighting, motors, and other electircal
equipment, the building has a connected service load of over
Immediately above comes
from Pages 23-24 of the 1979
North Carolina Manual, with minor edits.