Colorado State Capitol Virtual Tour
Elijah Myers, architect of the Capitol, was born in Philadelphia on December 22, 1832. Before studying architecture at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and starting as an apprentice, Myers attempted a career in both law and carpentry. Myers' professional aspirations, like many at the time, were stalled by the Civil War. During the war Myers served in the Union Army Engineers, and at wars end settled in Springfield, Illinois. When Myers' new architectural firm won the assignment for designing the Michigan State House in 1872, a career in public architecture was launched. Eight years later Myers was commissioned to design the immense Texas State Capitol building, and soon his talents came to Colorado with a design simply named "Corinthian."
Myers' work was never questioned, but his fees were when the estimated cost of construction doubled. Otto Mears, of the State Board of Capitol Managers, dismissed Myers in 1889 when it was revealed that his contract provided him with 2.5 percent of the total cost of the building construction. After firing Myers, Otto Mears said, "The state has got his plans, and has paid for them. You see we just don't need him." While Myers did offer to stay on at one percent of the additional costs, the Capitol Managers felt it necessary to cut spending they saw as frivolous. While Myers left Denver angry and insulted, his career continued to blossom.
Soon after the controversial events passed, the Federal Government hired him to design the Columbia Buildings for the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. His talent became internationally recognized when he was awarded the commission for the Brazilian Parliament Building at Rio de Janeiro, a building that has since been razed. Myers finished his career designing several lesser known public structures, and designed the State Capitols of both Utah and Idaho. Elijah E. Myers was a gifted draftsman whose style typified the aspirations and architecture of America's "Gilded Age." While his earlier structure reflect a Victorian Gothic Style, Myers' work soon became a leading force in the Neo-Classical movement.
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last modified June 20, 2003