The Texas Capitol is more than an historic landmark; it serves as the seat of government for the state. Due to the status, size and age of the building, the Capitol and Capitol Extension require constant attention. The dedicated and skilled staff of the State Preservation Board preserves and maintains the Capitol and Extension both for its current occupants and visitors as well as for future generations.

Review current Bid Opportunities on the SPB Procurement Page.

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.

Elevator Modernization

Status: Complete 2021

Modern systems in the historic Capitol require maintenance as well as the historic material. Elevators in the 1888 Capitol and 1993 Capitol Extension were recently modernized to current code.

While much of the work remains largely hidden from the public in machine rooms, visitors will now enjoy updated controls and modern features such as audible floor announcements for people with visual impairments, as well as improved wayfinding elements. Modern motors will be more durable, energy efficient and easier to maintain.

Along with the equipment, the cab interiors were replaced after 25 years of use. The opportunity was taken to add a new decorative and interpretive feature in the elevators off the Capitol Rotunda: an actual-size replica of the glass seal in the oculus of the Capitol North Façade pediment. While still in place, the original glass seal is very far from viewing locations at ground level, and has been protected with a backing that renders it no longer transparent, making it even less visible. At its construction, both the north and south Capitol facades featured decorative glass in their oculi, which were piped for gas fixtures to backlight them at night.

Exterior Door Preservation Project

Status: Complete 2018

The exterior doors that greet visitors to the Capitol are original 1888 construction. In addition to facing sun, rain, and wind for the past 130 years, they are currently used by more than 1 million visitors per year. Built of a thick layer of oak laminated over a core of white pine, the doors are hung on the largest of the massive "Texas Capitol" hinges found throughout the building.

This year, the SPB conducted a preservation effort on these important historic elements. The sensitive treatment included stripping loose paint, patching cracks and nicks, replacing perimeter sealants, and applying a fresh coat of protective paint to the exterior. Sweeps were replaced at the bottoms of the doors to keep out air and insects. New closers were installed to make these massive doors as easy as possible to open, while keeping them securely shut to keep out the elements. All historic hardware was restored to smooth function. Attachment points of hardware were reinforced to protect adjacent historic wood, and catches were adjusted to accommodate each door's unique shape without placing them under stress.

Updates and Images

  1. Exterior Door Preservation Project

Capitol Exterior Deck Replacement

Status: Complete 2018

The State Preservation Board (SPB) is currently replacing exterior decks at the Texas Capitol. These include the east and west exterior pedestrian entrance decks and the elevated decks at the north porch on the second and fourth floors. In Elijah E. Myers's original design, the east and west decks were to be covered with porticos similar to the existing north porch. The porticos were removed from the design in 1885 as a cost savings measure when changing the exterior stone from limestone to granite.

Currently, these decks serve as walking surfaces, but are also effectively roofs over the spaces below. Their waterproofing systems need replacement, 25 years after their installation in the comprehensive Capitol Restoration of the early 1990s. Water carrying damaging salts has been infiltrating through the decks into the structures below. As a result, SPB has observed rusting of important wrought iron structural elements, failure of mortar and plaster in the brick ceiling vaults and erosion of the original historic limestone walls below.

Updates and Images

  1. Deck Replacement Update - 2/20/18
  2. Deck Replacement Update - 4/9/18

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

  1. Wayfinding Update - 2/20/18

Exterior Preservation Project

Status: Complete 2015 - 2016

The Capitol's finely crafted windows retain significant elements of their original wood and plate glass. In 2015, the Preservation Board began to repair and stabilize more than 700 frames and windows. The entire exterior masonry surface will be gently cleaned and thoroughly inspected. Stone will be repaired, and mortar joints repointed as necessary. This undertaking requires an elaborate scaffold and multiplatform design to address each of these irreplaceable pieces.

Mortar Repair

During a inspection of the Capitol's exterior, staff discovered erosion of a mortar joint in the pediment due to water damage. Workers re-pointed the joint using a compatible mix of Portland cement for stability and lime to accommodate movement of stone. Inspections of this and other similar areas of the building take place on a scheduled basis to ensure the stability of the building.

Senate Chamber Carpet

Status: Complete 2014

In 2014, a reproduction of the Senate Chamber’s c. 1902 historical wool carpet was loomed and installed to replace the previously well-worn reproduction. Installation including hand sewing together 27 inch strips of carpet. The project did not use tax dollars. Funds generated from parking revenue, gift shop sales, concessions from the Capitol Grill and lease payments paid for the repairs.

Dome Repair and Re-painting

Status: Complete 2010

In 2010, scaffolding covered the entire dome and cupolas. Workers painted the dome to match the color of the Texas Sunset Red granite and undertook substantial water-proofing, asbestos removal and metal refurbishing. The project did not use tax dollars. Funds generated from parking revenue, gift shop sales, concessions from the Capitol Grill and lease payments paid for the repairs.

Other Projects & Initiatives