Capitol Story, Third Edition

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Table of contents

Foreword by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Foreword to First Edition by Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller
Introduction to First Edition by Albert B. Corey
1. Chateau on a Hill
2. Themis Dethroned
3. The Design Competitions
4. Cornerstone in the Rain
5. Battle of the Styles
6. Housewarming
7. The Vanishing Murals
8. Richardson’s Legacy
9. Isaac Perry Appointed Capitol Commissioner
10. The Case of the Unfortunate Ceiling
11. The Tower That Never Was
12. The Stone Carvers
13. The Empire State Plaza
15. Restoration of the Capitol, 1977-2013
by Diana S. Waite
Selected Bibliography

A lavishly illustrated history of New York's Capitol and its recent renovation.


The New York State Capitol sits majestically at the head of Albany's State Street, a masterpiece of civic architecture and decorative design. Built between 1867 and 1899, it was the work of four architects—Thomas Fuller, Leopold Eidlitz, Henry Hobson Richardson, and Isaac Perry—who labored under geologically difficult, structurally challenging, and politically exasperating conditions. The building is also the product of hundreds of highly skilled masons and exceptional stone carvers. It is a feat of architectural design and engineering expertise, with superlatively executed interior features and finishes.

First published in 1964 and reissued in 1982, C. R. Roseberry's Capitol Story tells the fascinating story of the Capitol's design and construction. This revised and expanded edition includes new information based on research done over the past twenty years, and brings the story up to date with a new chapter on the extensive interior and exterior restorations that were completed in 2013. The book also includes scores of new, specially commissioned, full-color photographs; notes; and an index.

Capitol Story will appeal to a wide audience—young and old, New Yorkers and visitors, architecture and history buffs. More importantly, it will help build an educated constituency for the Capitol, one that will understand and be prepared to preserve the building in the years to come.

C. R. Roseberry (1902–1990) was a journalist and writer who lived and worked in Albany. He was the author of many books, including Glenn Curtiss, Pioneer of Flight and From Niagara to Montauk: The Scenic Pleasures of New York State, also published by SUNY Press. Diana S. Waite is President of Mount Ida Press. She is the author of Ornamental Ironwork: Two Centuries of Craftsmanship in Albany and Troy, New York and the editor of Albany Architecture: A Guide to the City.


"The book deserves a place on the shelf alongside other important, enduring reference books published on Albany history over the last 150 years." — Times Union

"C. R. Roseberry's Capitol Story, published in 1964, gave us a marvelous history of the anguished thirty-year building of the New York State Capitol—a cavalcade of political clashes over its ever-escalating cost, rampant graft, public scorn, a battle royal among its eminent architects, yet a project that overrode all fury and became the most grandiose capitol in America. Now, half a century later, Diana S. Waite has enhanced Roseberry's history, meticulously detailing the Capitol's restoration after fire, water, aging, and piecemeal changes marred its beauty and functionality. The book is elegantly designed with exquisite new color photos by Gary David Gold; a grand documentation of a great American work of art." — William Kennedy

"This third edition of Capitol Story brings the history of one of New York State's most important landmarks full circle—from its tumultuous thirty-year construction, through a devastating fire in 1911, to its recently completed world-class restoration. Along the way we are treated to the stories of the politicians, the architects, the craftspeople, and the preservationists that have created and preserved what many regard to be a state capitol like no other in the nation. Every student of New York architecture and preservation should know this story." — Jay A. DiLorenzo, President, Preservation League of New York State

"Capitol Story recounts the continuing saga of the people who planned, designed, built, renovated, and restored the New York State Capitol and Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza. Spanning more than 200 years, this book succinctly traces the political, economic, artistic, and innovative decisions made over time to create and maintain a government complex befitting New York State. Recent scholarship, contemporary photographs, and a new chapter on restoration efforts bring this story to the present." — Tammis K. Groft, Executive Director, Albany Institute of History & Art