130 Years in the Making

The 2018 ornament celebrates a milestone for the Texas Capitol.

By Adam Faderewski

Official Ornament

In the spring of 1888, some 20,000 people gathered on the streets of downtown Austin to see the dedication of one of the state’s most important—and beautiful—structures. A mile-long parade down Congress Avenue kicked off the festivities that May 16, which culminated in an official dedication ceremony of the Texas Capitol. This year’s Capitol ornament commemorates the 130th anniversary of the beloved building.

The ornament features a scene depicting a rare snowfall on the Capitol grounds with the building set against a starry winter night. The ornament is encircled with a wreath of Texas Yaupon Holly leaves and berries, along with a red ribbon, and topped with the Texas Lone Star. The back of the ornament features a quote from Texas Sen. Temple Houston, the youngest son of Sam Houston, who accepted the Capitol on behalf of the people at the dedication. “Here glitters a structure that shall stand as a sentinel of eternity,” Houston said, during the Capitol dedication ceremony.

“This year’s ornament was designed to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Texas Capitol,” said Erin Christensen, director of retail for the Texas State Preservation Board. “We wanted to pay homage to the beauty and elegance of the building itself.”

Architect Elijah E. Meyers of Detroit, Michigan, designed the Texas Capitol in the Renaissance Revival style and modeled it after the national Capitol in Washington. Original plans called for the Capitol to be built with limestone from near Austin, but discoloration of the limestone led to the choice of red granite, which was donated by the owners of Granite Mountain, near Marble Falls. A plan to restore the Capitol was approved by the Texas Legislature in 1989 and work began in 1990. An underground annex extension was completed in January 1993. After restoration, the Capitol was rededicated on April 21, 1995—107 years to the day after the public was first admitted to tour the Capitol while construction was in the final stages.

The ornament is made of 24-karat gold and measures approximately 2.5 inches. The cost is $22 and proceeds benefit Texas State Capitol preservation and educational programs. This is the 23rd ornament in the Capitol series.

The ornament program was started 22 years ago by the late Nelda Laney, wife of then-Speaker of the House Pete Laney. To date, the Texas Capitol ornament program has raised over $9 million. All proceeds from ornament sales go toward the preservation and maintenance of the Texas Capitol, Capitol Extension, the 1857 General Land Office Building, other designated buildings, and their contents and grounds. Funds also go toward preserving the Texas Governor’s Mansion and to operating costs for the Bullock Texas State History Museum and the Texas State Cemetery.

The State Preservation Board provides educational programs on Texas culture, government, and history.

For more information or to purchase an ornament, go to texascapitolgiftshop.com. TBJ

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