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The Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia was designated a National Historic Landmark in December 1960. The United States National Park Service which maintains the register of National Historic Landmarks and the National register of Historic Places had the building designated as the “Capital of the Confederacy”. That was until last Thursday, January 11, 2017. Whilst it was true that the Virginia statehouse served as the capitol for the confederacy, the USNPS have accepted that the building is of greater historic significance than the original designation gave credence to.
The current building was designed by Thomas Jefferson and built between 1785 and 1792. This was eighth building to serve as Virginia’s state house. It houses the oldest legislative body in the western hemisphere. What is now known as the Virginia General Assembly was first established as the House of Burgesses in 1619. It was Virginians in the House of Burgesses who first declared their independence from Great Britain on June 29, 1776, four days before Congress voted for the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4.
The Virginia State Capitol building in Richmond has been witness to its own historic moments. It is not just important as the successor to the Williamsburg House of Burgesses. The cornerstone was laid in 1785 with then Governor Patrick Henry in attendance. In 1791 it was the site of the Ratification of the Bill of Rights. In 1807, it was the site of the treason trial of vice-president Aaron Burr, which was presided over by Chief Justice John Marshall. In 1990, it was the also the site of the inauguration of the nation’s first elected African-American Governor, L. Douglas Wilder.
The Virginia State Capitol is also significant architecturally. Inspired by the symmetrical beauty of a Roman temple Jefferson had seen in France, the building brought a whole era of neoclassical architecture to America. Basically, here is the origin of many of the famous monuments and other buildings so well known in Washington, DC.