At the Seat of Idaho: The Capitol Building

Sitting at the end of a grand processional that cuts through the City of Boise, is the Idaho Capitol Building. This grand building sprawls hundreds of thousands square feet, and the prominent dome soars over 200 feet into the air. Atop it, a massive golden eagle watches over Boise and keeps the seat of Idaho’s government under its protective wings.

Living in Boise, you’ve probably seen the Capitol Building and it’s impressive architecture. If you’ve just visited Boise, odds are you’ve probably seen the building as well. It’s a worthwhile visit whether you live here, or are just passing through. If you live in Idaho, you might consider taking a trip to Boise, just to see the Capitol Building, where our state government resides.


Our Idaho State Capitol Building is old. The Capitol was actually built in phases, with the first phase of construction starting in 1905. Today, that makes the building over 100 years old. It’s still standing tall as the symbol of our government and our great state. The first phase entailed construction of the central portion of the building. The rotunda was also built during this phase, as was the initial beginning of the east and west wings. Perhaps the greatest part of this phase of construction was the dome, however.

The dome is massive, and built using terra cotta. It’s supported by steel structures that are hidden within the dome and the rest of the building. At the top rests the eagle and a lit lantern. The eagle is representative of the state itself, and the greater democracy we are a part of.

Construction of this first phase wasn’t completed until 1912, seven years after construction started. The second phase saw the addition and completion of the east and west wings of the Capitol Building. Sandstone was the primary material used in construction, with the 10-ton blocks brought in from Table Rock. The massive stones were actually moved by inmates from the Old Idaho State Penitentiary.


Just like the construction of the Capitol Building took place in phases, so did the restoration of the building. Phase one consisted of repairing the masonry work and replacing mortar. It generally consisted of fixing up the sandstone and other materials used in the construction.

Phase two of the restoration was a little more involved, and consisted of extensive exterior repairs. The dome was repaired, skylights were repaired, and the parapets were repaired. Most notable, however, was the restoration of the eagle and lantern sitting on top of the dome. While restoration and repair work was being completed on the dome, the lighting all around the dome, and the eagle, were replaced. The eagle, made of copper, received regal treatment, being rehabilitated and freshly gilded in gold. These restorations began in 2001 and were completed in 2006.

The Seat of a City and a State

The Idaho State Capitol Building is a massive building, and it’s full of intricate and impressive architecture and stone. Within the building are thousands and thousands of square feet of carved marble. There were many kinds of marble used to construct the interior of the building, and while the Capitol cost over $2 million to build in 1905, the restorations cost over $100 million. Many of the original materials were irreplaceable.

The Capitol is full of history, and it’s still functioning to this day. It’s the active seat of Idaho’s government, and houses the state senate and congress. The Capitol Building is one of a kind though, as it’s the only Capitol Building to be heated with geothermic water. The water is pulled deep from underground, and is a natural source of hot water and heating.

Regardless of if you live in Idaho, or are planning on moving here, you can’t help but stand in awe of the Capitol Building. It’s a truly impressive building, and the eagle stands tall on top of the dome. The Capitol isn’t just the seat of our government in Idaho. It’s a piece of our history, and a testament to the hard work and dedication of Idahoans. There’s a sense of pride when viewing the Capitol, and that pride is twofold knowing the amount of work that went into building such an iconic, and important, building that sits in a place of prominence in Boise.

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