After three years in Burlington, a committee chose Iowa City as the site of the new Iowa territory capital in 1839. An architecture and construction contract was awarded shortly after, with the cornerstone laid on July 4, 1840. Four rooms were complete by December 1942, when the territorial legislature met in the building for the first time. Iowa officially became the 29th state in the union on December 28, 1846, with Iowa City retaining capital city status for the next eleven years.
When the state capitol was moved to Des Moines in December 1857, the Old Capitol became the first permanent building of The University of Iowa. The site housed the entire university until 1863, when the school’s second building was occupied. Renovations were made to the building in the 1920s, 1970s, and 1990s, with contractors on the final project accidentally setting the dome on fire. While damage was limited to the dome area, the building did not officially reopen to the public until 2006.
The building now houses the Old Capitol Museum, which is open to the public six days a week.