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Four Fun Facts about Tennessee’s State Capital

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1. The building is considered a civil engineering landmark and the crowning achievement of its architect, William Strickland. Strickland was a celebrated architect from Pennsylvania who was an early founder of the Greek Revival movement in the United States. He designed the Capitol to be virtually fire-proof. Although unusual for this time period, both the interior and exterior walls were built from local limestone. Also, he made use of the newest building material of that time, wrought iron, for the roof trusses. This was not only one of the earliest examples of the use of structural iron; it also prompted the expansion of the iron industry in Tennessee.

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2. There are two bodies buried in the walls of the Capitol building. William Strickland, the building’s architect, died five years before the building’s completion. His request to be buried in the building was granted and in 1854, he was laid to rest in the northeast wall. The second person buried in the building was Samuel Dold Morgan. Samuel was the chairman of the State Building Commission and he oversaw the construction of the Capitol building. He passed away in 1880 and is buried in the southeast corner.

3. Speaking of buried bodies, fun fact three is the Capitol building is said to be haunted. Apparently William Strickland and Samuel Dold Morgan were enemies in life and in death. Legend speaks of their constant bickering over the minor details of the construction process while they lived. It seems this bickering continues today. On quiet nights the sounds of their shouts and arguments can be heard coming from the deserted capitol. There are, also, other stories of ghostly union soldiers, antebellum women and long-dead presidents who still walk the grounds and hallways of this stately building.

4. There is a tale of one legislator who escaped an angry mob by climbing out of a third-story window after his vote became the tie-breaking vote in a piece of controversial legislature. Because of a letter from his mother, a young legislator, Harry Burn, changed his “No” vote to a “Yes” at the last minute. This tie-breaking vote ratified the 19th Amendment to the US constitution and gave women the right vote.

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