Senator Brewer’s Weekly Update


By Senator Tom Brewer

I attended the Governor’s formal Statehood Day Dinner on the 1st of March with my staff. As I wrap up my time in the Legislature, having a formal meal served in the Rotunda of our beautiful capitol was a really special treat.

President Franklin Pierce signed the Nebraska-Kansas Act on May 30, 1854 creating the Nebraska Territory. There were several controversies over where Nebraska’s Capitol would be located. The very first Governor of the State of Nebraska (David Butler) was impeached and removed from office over his corruption involving the new Capitol building in the village of Lancaster (now Lincoln).

The capitol building we have today is actually the fifth Nebraska capitol. The first two territorial capitols were both in Omaha. The Bertram Goodhue designed Capitol we have today is actually the third capitol to stand on the four city blocks known as the “capitol square” in Lincoln.

The first State Capitol in Lincoln was built between 1867 and 1868. It was a two story building with a central cupola, made of native limestone quarried near Roca, NE. The yellow limestone this first State Capitol was built with was soft and porous and soon began to crumble. In 1881 the first wing of a second State Capitol was completed and the entire building finished in 1888. This second Capitol suffered the same fate of poor quality construction materials and was settling structurally when talk began of building a third State Capitol in 1915.

The Legislature passed a bill to provide for the construction of a new third Capitol, including provisions for a Capitol Commission to oversee construction, given the first two failed attempts. The building we have today is Nebraska’s third State Capitol building to be built on this site. It is also the nation’s first statehouse design to be very different from every other state capitol. Nebraska’s is the first with an office tower. It was built over the course of ten years from 1922-1932, the building, with furnishings and landscaping, was completed at a cost just under the $10 million. Not one penny of money was borrowed for the construction of our capitol. Back in the 1930’s Nebraska was one of the few states with a constitution that did not authorize state government to carry “bonded debt.” When funds for the year were expended, work stopped until the legislature appropriated more funds the following year.

This time Indiana limestone was chosen as a much more durable building material. The square base is 437 feet on a side and three levels in height. From the center of this base rises a 400 foot domed tower, crowned with the 19 foot tall bronze figure called “The Sower.” As the square base of the new capitol was being build, it encircled the existing capitol building which continued to be used during the first phase of construction. Much of the paving stones from the old capitol have been re-purposed and can still be seen near the West entrance and in the four court yards.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.