Minnesota's Second State Capitol

Fire destroyed Minnesota's first capitol building on March 1, 1881. The second capitol, completed in 1883, served as the seat of Minnesota state government for just ten years before state officials began planning a grander, more efficient capitol. The second capitol building stood on the site of the first capitol for fifty-five years until its demolition in 1937.

State Capitol Fire, 1881

As Minnesota state legislators met on the evening of March 1, 1881, two days before the end of their twenty-second session, two pages alerted them to a fire in the building. Quick action by lawmakers and nearby residents saved important documents, furnishings, and historical collections. The fire took no lives but destroyed Minnesota's first capitol building.

Scan of examination of work done on the capitol building, 1853.

Examination of work done on the capitol building

Examination of work done on the capitol building, 1853. From, Records, 1851–1854, Minnesota Territorial Archives, Minnesota Board of Commissioners of Public Buildings, State Archives Collection, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

Scan of the receipt of payment to John Daniels dated October 2, 1852 for work rendered on the capitol.

Receipt of payment to John Daniels

Receipt of payment to John Daniels dated October 2, 1852 for work rendered on the capitol. From, Records, 1851–1854, Minnesota Territorial Archives, Minnesota Board of Commissioners of Public Buildings, State Archives Collection, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

Color image of keys from the first state capitol, found in the ruins of the burned-out building, 1881.

Keys from the first state capitol

Keys from the first state capitol, found in the ruins of the burned-out building, 1881.

Black and white view of St. Paul looking toward the first capitol building, 1857. Photographed by Edward Augustus Bromley.

View of St. Paul looking toward the first capitol building

View of St. Paul looking toward the first capitol building, 1857. Photographed by Edward Augustus Bromley.

Black and white photograph of New Market House, Seventh and Wabasha, St. Paul, 1883.

New Market House

New Market House, Seventh and Wabasha, St. Paul, 1883.

Black and white photograph of the Central House (where the Territorial Legislature met prior to the building of the State Capitol) and First State Capitol, St. Paul, ca. 1850.

Central House

Central House (where the Territorial Legislature met prior to the building of the State Capitol) and First State Capitol, St. Paul, ca. 1850.

Black and white view of St. Paul from Park Place Hotel, looking southeast toward the first State Capitol, ca. 1871.

View of St. Paul from Park Place Hotel

View of St. Paul from Park Place Hotel, looking southeast toward the first State Capitol, ca. 1871.

Black and white photograph of St. Paul, showing the first state capitol, ca. 1868. Photographed by Benjamin Franklin Upton.

View of St. Paul showing the first state capitol

View of St. Paul showing the first state capitol, ca. 1868. Photographed by Benjamin Franklin Upton.

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