Anyone driving in downtown Jackson over the last few months has noticed the amount of roadwork and construction.
Nowhere is that more true than the areas surrounding the Mississippi state capitol building.
The state’s Department of Finance Administration is conducting $4,672,000 worth of projects to repair and maintain aspects of the 119-year-old complex. The work began in the fall of 2021 and is expected to be completed by fall 2023.
The two-year long plan is funded through bonds and includes fixing a “severe drainage issue” on the east side of the capitol, said DFA spokesperson Marcy Scoggins.
Additionally, an uneven sidewalk is being fixed on the southeast side, the sidewalks on each of the four corners of the complex are being made handicap accessible, cracks and drainage issues in the main drive are being fixed, sidewalks in the east plaza are being replaced, flag poles that were damaged in a 2021 storm are being replaced and the complex’s sprinkler system is being replaced, which will also come with a re-sodding of the entire capitol grounds.
Scoggins said repairs and maintenance of that magnitude do not happen very often.
“This is the next round of needed repairs, and improvements to the capitol grounds,” Scoggins said.
DFA Executive Director Liz Welch said it is hard to predict when the next round of significant repairs and maintenance will be needed.
“It is a 1903 building, so there’s always something to do on the building,” Welch said. “These items that we addressed were the ones that are the worst. There are still others.”
The state capitol building, often called the “new capitol,” was the third Mississippi state capitol building to be built in Jackson. The building it succeeded is now the Old State Museum. The first state capitol building is no longer standing.
Construction started in 1900 and the domed building with a southward-facing golden eagle adorning it was completed in 1903. The new capitol cost the state just over $1 million, and was funded entirely by the settlement from one lawsuit over back taxes. The architect of the new capitol building was Theodore Link, who was based in St. Louis.
Over the following 119 years, the capitol was home to a number of historic moments. One such moment, which is marked by a plaque on the north of the capitol complex, was the culmination of the 1966 Civil Rights Era “March Against Fear.” The march began in Memphis, and ended at the capitol.
In 1983, a major $19 million restoration was completed, and maintenance projects over the years have attempted to keep the capitol in the best possible condition.
Welch is very proud of the work she and DFA have done over the years to maintain the capitol.
“She’s the most beautiful building in the state,” Welch said.