Lansing Becomes The State Capital

Registered Site S0587

Lansing Becomes The State Capital

The territorial courthouse that served as Michigan's first state capitol was completed in Detroit in 1828. However, Michigan's first constitution made Detroit a temporary capital and said a permanent site should be chosen by 1847. As the deadline approached, nearly every town in Michigan was proposed. James Seymour, a land speculator with a mill in what is now North Lansing, campaigned for Lansing Township, pointing out its locations equidistant from Detroit, Monroe, Mt. Clemens and the mouths of the Grand and Kalamazoo rivers. The house voted on thirteen sites before selecting Lansing; and the senate voted fifty-one times before it accepted the house's recommendation that the wilderness township with less than 100 people become the new state capital.
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Lansing's First Capitol Building

Early in 1847, three commissioners were appointed to select an appropriate site for the capitol in Lansing. The contract for construction was awarded on June 3, 1847. Building materials were shipped by boat on the Grand River or by rail from Detroit to Jackson and by wagon on cut trails through the woods to Lansing. Gradually, the capitol rose on this site. It was described as "a church-like little structure of wood painted white." The building measured 60 feet by 100 feet, was two stories high and had a cupola. A white picket fence set it off from the surrounding forest. It contained legislative and supreme court chambers, an office for the governor, a few other offices and a library. Completed in late 1847, it was used until the present capitol was completed in 1879.

Erected 1987

Location: South Washington Square near Allegan
Lansing, Ingham County


Latitude: 42.7326553, Longitude: -84.5522189

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