A Texas Tradition: 2013 Texas Capitol Ornament
The holidays are a time for traditions and the Texas Capitol has one of its very own. Every year, a new Texas Capitol Ornament is created in recognition of the beautiful architectural features displayed in our Texas Capitol building. As we celebrate this holiday season, I want to take the opportunity to discuss the background and history behind this year’s 2013 capitol ornament.
This year’s ornament was designed to feature and depict the stunning skylights found in the Texas House and Texas Senate Chambers. This skylight feature dates back to 1887 and was originally designed and created to be used as a decorative glass ceiling. Nearly 50 years after first being installed, one of the skylights fell in the Senate chamber, spawning an investigation. The investigation was done by architect C.H. Page and engineer William E. Simpson. During the investigation, they prepared the “Building Survey Report of the Texas Capitol, 1938-1939” for the State Board of Control, which was at that time, responsible for the care of the Capitol Building. The report created by both the architect and engineer resulted in the removal of the original decorative glass skylights. Some historians believe the original glass skylights to have been removed around 1947 and they were subsequently replaced with a sound absorbing material. Following the removal of the original glass skylights, the skylights were acquired by state officials and the general public. Many people cut them down and used the glass for decorative purposes which was included in table tops and small home windows. In 1983, the State Preservation Board was created and given the responsibility for the Texas Capitol building. Since the boards creation, there has been no record of any glass problems.
In 1993, the Texas Capitol extension project was completed and provided a significant additional amount of space to its Capitol occupants and thereby improved the Capitol’s functionality. This expansion literally doubled the available square footage of the Capitol and also provided two floors of underground parking. A few years later in 1995, following the completion of the Capitol Extension, the State Capitol building underwent a comprehensive restoration of both the interior and exterior parts of the Capitol building. During that time many features of the Capitol were restored to their original designs, including the glass skylights. These skylights were replaced with reproductions due to the fact that the original skylights were lost. The replacing of this significant architectural feature helped to return the House and Senate chambers back to their original appearance. Finally, in 1997, the grounds surrounding the Capitol building were also given a renovation in order to create a park-like atmosphere.
Each and every year, the state of Texas has a tradition of featuring a special and unique holiday ornament modeled after the many historical architectural design elements of the state Capitol building. If you are interested in starting your own tradition of collecting this year’s 2013 Texas Capitol ornament or previous ornaments, they are available at Texas Capitol Gift shop.
If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).
– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32
Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 512-463-0672.