The Controversy Surrounding the State Capitol Fire

 It is very unlikely that the people of Harrisburg thought the burning of the old capitol building would stimulate the begin of Harrisburg’s City Beautiful Movement. From our perspective, nearly 100 years later, the need to rebuild the capitol building seemed like the perfect catalyst.  At the time, however, the chaos of dealing with burned down capitol put the state government in a place of confusion with no location to meet. While the state government figured out how to find the funds to rebuild a capitol building and find funds for an architect, a certain question radiated throughout the state as to whether the capital itself should move. A movement such as this would most certainly impact the future of the city of Harrisburg, and Philadelphia was passionate about claiming the new title. Despite these conflicts, there was a strong movement from certain people in Harrisburg excited about the new opportunity for a new state house. Much of the popular pressure both positive and negative would fall on Governor Hasting who headed the organization the reconstruction of the building. The new capitol building was completed and officially inaugurated in 1906 leaving behind a controversial previous century. It is unfair to leave the less triumphant historical narrative after that began after the fire and lasted until the turn of the century, as it reveals the perspectives of Pennsylvanians from all over the state for their capital city. 


Arion Dominique