Old State House (Little Rock)

The Old State House is a historic building in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. It is the oldest surviving state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. It is best known as the site of President Bill Clinton's election night celebrations in 1992.

The Old State House was commissioned by Territorial Governor John Pope and was constructed between 1833 and 1842. Architect Gideon Shryock, who had previously designed the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, chose a Greek Revival style for the building. The original design was too expensive for the fledgling territory, so Shyrock's assistant George Weigart changed the plans and oversaw construction.

Both houses of the Arkansas General Assembly moved into the building while construction was ongoing. In 1837 a fatal knife fight between legislators in the Arkansas House of Representatives occurred in the legislative chamber.

During the American Civil War the building was used by Union troops occupying Little Rock. During Reconstruction the building became the central focal point of the Brooks-Baxter War and the building was turned into a fortification during that struggle. The "Lady Baxter" cannon still remains on the grounds.

The building was used as the official state capitol until the new capitol building was constructed in 1912. For a time the building served as a medical school.

The Old State House was renamed as the 'Arkansas War Memorial' and was used as an office building for federal and state agencies as well as a meeting place for patriotic organizations.

In 1947 the General Assembly passed acts making the Old State House into a museum. The museum front entrance was the site of President Bill Clinton's presidential campaign announcement and the site of his election night celebrations in both of his runs for the White House. The building underwent major renovation in 1996.

It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997. ,

The building continues to serve as a museum with exhibits related to Arkansas history and culture. Permanent collections include Civil War battle flags, the inaugural gowns of governors' wives, Arkansas art pottery, and African-American quilts.


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