Capitol Grounds Projects & Initiatives
State Preservation Board staff maintain the 22 acres surrounding the Capitol. This includes upkeep of fountains, lights, benches, trash receptacles, signage, fencing, lawn and gates. Groundskeepers care for historic trees, some of which have stood for more than a century. They utilize a sprinkler system and plant perennial vegetation to conserve water and still beautify the Grounds.
South Grounds Wall Restoration
Status: Complete 2021
The granite wall and south gate of the Great Walk, located at 11th Street and Congress Avenue, was unintentionally damaged in a vehicle collision in late November, 2020. This feature was originally installed ca. 1889 as part of the development of the Grounds shortly after completion of the Capitol, and renovated in 1997. Despite the extent of the damage, the individual units of Sunset Red granite remained largely intact as they tumbled down. Still, reassembly was not a simple feat.
The site was thoroughly photo documented, and the stones were cleaned of motor oil and inventoried by their location in the debris. Stones small enough to be moved, including all small pieces of rubble and original mortar, were carefully relocated to offsite storage. Larger units were safely stored on site. Each piece was located to its original placement and orientation in the wall based on previous photographs. Pieces ranged from 170 to 2800 pounds, requiring heavy equipment for any movement. Loose samples of original mortar embedded deep within the wall for 130 years were gathered for analysis--a rare opportunity to access material not easily exposed without unnecessarily damaging intact historic construction.
Reconstruction utilized lime-based mortars appropriate to the stone and similar to the original construction materials. The mortar color was matched to existing so the repair would blend seamlessly. A custom tool was used to apply the decorative raised "bead" found in the original 19th century construction. The one broken piece was epoxied back in place, and cracks filled with the color-matched lime mortar. One limestone curb unit was damaged beyond repair and replaced. Luckily it was a replacement unit from the 1997 Grounds Restoration, not original to the Great Walk. Limestone curbs with less damage were textured to hide the scrape marks, and left in place to age naturally. The gate, also a replica from the 1997 Grounds Restoration, was able to be largely repaired, with only minor replacement elements required to hang it back in place.
Capitol Visitors Wayfinding Signage Package
Status: Complete 2018
In 2018, the SPB will install a signage upgrade extending from the Visitors Parking Garage, across the Capitol Square grounds, and into the Capitol. The intent of the signage is to improve the visitor experience with a focus on improved wayfinding for visitors with physical impairments. The Garage will have improved directional signage making the facility easier to identify for visitors arriving by car, and wayfinding signage indicating how to move toward the Capitol, once parked. Informational kiosks outside the garage will provide additional wayfinding elements, as well as historical information about the Capitol and Capitol Square. Once on the historic grounds, signage will be minimized to protect the historic landscape. New elements will include maps at each entrance and more frequent wayfinding signage along the sidewalks indicating accessible routes to all destinations across the Grounds. Inside the Capitol, minor detached signage will be added at entrances, elevators and hearing rooms to improve queuing and security screening and encourage priority access for visitors with disabilities.
Updates and Images
State Preservation Board staff clean monumental statuary throughout the Grounds on an annual basis. They use techniques obtained from specialized training that few historic sites in the country have available to them on a routine basis.
Capitol Rose Garden
Near the end of each February, State Preservation Board facilities staff prune the Capitol's Tyler Rose Garden. They cut back growth on all of the bushes. This annual pruning promotes healthy bushes and ensures beautiful flowers for the coming year.
Texas Peace Officers Memorial Project
Status: Complete 2015 - 2016
The Texas Peace Officers monument has suffered from a continual and unsightly accumulation of salts and other minerals. In the past, crews had to sandblast the monument annually to remove the minerals. In the summer of 2015, a project replaced the concrete vertical pieces with polished granite eliminating the possibility of future mineral accumulation. The monument received state-of-the-art, energy-efficient LED lighting fixtures. Workers re-set the ground pavers and re-sealed all joints on the monument. Private funds paid for the entire project.
Volunteer Firemen's Monument Expansion
Status: Complete 2015
No space remained on the original structure of the Volunteer Firemen's monument for additional names. In spring 2015, the installation of a ring of solid granite panels provided room for over 500 new names. The four sections of panels stand in the space around the monument originally intended as a planting bed. The project received funding from the 84th legislature and private donations. Names of volunteer firefighter's who perished in the West Fertilizer Company explosion on April 17, 2013, were among the first 21 engraved on the new panels.