--National Historic Landmark update renames the historic building as the “Virginia State Capitol,” replacing former name “Confederate Capitol”--
--National Historic Landmark status is the highest honor the federal government bestows on a historic site--
RICHMOND – The National Park Service announced today that it has approved a revised National Historic Landmark nomination for Virginia’s Capitol, completed in 1788 as designed by Thomas Jefferson, and now home to the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere.
The revised nomination reflects a request by Virginia officials to rename the building under its NHL status as the “Virginia State Capitol,” replacing its prior designation as the “Confederate Capitol.” The latter name was given when the building was originally listed in December 1960 as a National Historic Landmark (NHL), just prior to the 100th anniversary of the Civil War.
The revised NHL nomination form—drafted by the Department of Historic Resources in collaboration with the Capitol Square Preservation Council—broadens the period of significance for the building beyond its brief role as the capitol of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.
Jefferson designed the Capitol with the assistance of French architect Charles Louis Clérisseau. His inspiration for the building's design was a Roman temple, Maison Carrée, located in Nimes, France. Begun in 1785, the Capitol became home to the General Assembly of Virginia after the removal of the seat of government from Williamsburg to Richmond.
The building marks the beginning of America’s Classical Revival movement in architecture. In 1906 the original Jefferson-designed Capitol was added to with the construction of wings and hyphens, which provided larger chambers for legislators.
“The influence of Virginia’s Capitol to the architecture of public buildings in this nation cannot be overstated,” said Julie V. Langan, director of the Department of Historic Resources. “The Capitol embodies Jefferson’s ideas blending classical ‘temple’ architecture with his notions about the role of civic buildings in a republic” she added.
NHL designation is the highest honor the federal government bestows on a historic property. There are now 126 NHLs recognized in Virginia. The Capitol was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 and in the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1968. Today, there are 3,032 National Register sites in Virginia.
Both the National Register and the NHL programs are managed by the National Park Service.
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