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Iowa Capitol Still Impressive After 130 Years In Service

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  While Iowa legislators are working on budget issues and passing new laws, the building they work in continues to impress, even after 130 years of service.

Lawrence Williamson of Ankeny is a tour guide at the Capitol. He grew up in Oregon, but loves to talk about the history of Iowa.

“There’s so much I don’t get into because of time, I only have 90 minutes,” said Williamson. “Each tour I can say something different, so it just keeps it fresh.”

In 1844, the Iowa legislature was meeting at what is now called the Old Capitol, in Iowa City. When lawmakers considered moving the capital to a more central Iowa location, Monroe City in Jasper County was selected.

“They had platted out some lots, but they found out there was a lot of corruption going on so that never really happened,” said Steve Person, an Iowa State Capitol tour guide.

Once the lawmakers committed to come to Des Moines to build a capitol building, there was some competition as to where this building would be erected.

“So the west side, in an effort to get the capitol there, said we’ll give you 10 acres of land for free,”said Karen Griesheim, another tour guide at the Statehouse. “The east side had to one-up that, so they said we’ll give you the 10 acres of land for free, plus we’ll build the building for you.”

One visitor and his family had a surprising reaction to their first visit to the Iowa Capitol.

“The access for the general public to come up here and experience this is quite amazing,” said Andy Kasperek, who is stationed at Offut Air Force Base in Omaha. “Thinking about jumping across the border and maybe putting down roots in Council Bluffs, this is really nice, folks are really friendly here.”

If you would like to tour the Iowa Capitol, click here.