Whenever a large new building is built, or we move into a huge new house, two or three times bigger than we have ever had, there’s a period of delusion in which we can’t see how we will ever fill the space, much less outgrow it. Such was the case with the New Capitol in 1903, but I came across these two articles in close sucession in the Vicksburg Post, when the New Capitol was only seven years old, that show just how quickly things came to a head, forcing agency heads to plot against their colleagues for more space. This shows us that state government never changes, but it also shows the seed of the idea to move state agencies into the Old Capitol, a seed that took another seven years to spring to full life in Theodore Link’s 1917 renovation of that building, saving it from probable collapse.
Vicksburg Evening Post, July 8, 1910, p.6
Complain That New Capitol Is Too Small
Various Departments Have Insufficient Room To Store Records–State Officers Are Making Kicks
Jackson, Miss., July 8–The new capitol is too small. That may sound like a pipe dream, but it is, nevertheless, as the various departments have’nt [sic] sufficient room to store their records, and it begins to look as though the Railroad Commission and one or two others would have to seek new quarters in the near future.
The executive offices are badly crowded. There is no place to store records and state documents, such as must be kept, and there are millions of them to keep, too. Every inch of available space is utilized to care for these things, but still it is impossible to store them to advantage.
The Railroad Commission has a room about large enough for a young attorney starting out in business, and has a mass of records that must be retained, regardless of convenience. The commission is about as badly crowded as four in a bed on a hot summer’s night, and something must be done to relieve the situation soon.
It will not be necessary for the Railroad Commission to remain at the capitol. This is one department that could occupy quarters out in the city in order to make more room for the other officers of the state, but no provision has been made for it, nor will be for at least two years.
The Attorney General is occupying the room set aside for the lieutenant governor, which relieved the congestion in his departments, but when the legislature meets in 1911 other arrangements will have to be made. The Secretary of State is also crowded more or less, as is the Adjutant General and one of two other state officers, and it is just possible the next legislature will be asked for an appropriation to secure additional quarters for some of the officers.
With the development of the state, the business of the commonwealth is outgrowing the capitol. Few persons can realize this, but it is a fact that is brought out strongly every day in a hundred different ways to the state officers. There is no way to make an addition to the capitol, which means the Railroad Commissions, probably the Adjutant General, Land Commissioner, Insurance Commission and one or two other officers will be provided with other quarters in a few years.
Each year conditions become more congested, and within the next two years it is believed some measure of relief will have to be determined by the legislature.
The Attorney General’s office now employs five persons regularly–the Attorney General, his two assistants and two stenographers, and there are times, even with a suite of five rooms the apartments are jammed. What the Attorney General will do when the legislature convenes and one of these rooms is taken from him, is hard to say.
The Post followed up its first article with this one that looks with interest at the Old Capitol, which was by then falling into bad disrepair.
Vicksburg Evening Post, July 20, 1910, p. 1
State’s Business Has Outgrown New Capitol
Jackson, Miss., July 20–It is probable the next Legislature will be called upon to provide additional rooms for the State officers. The new capitol has become congested in the last seven years, and there is not room in the building for all the officers and their records.
Governor Noel discussed this matter today in a general way. Like every other officer of the State, the Governor realizes the business of the commonwealth has outgrown the handsome new capitol, and that it is only a question of time till additional quarters will have to be made for some of the officers.
He has suggested two plans–one to make a cellar under the entire building for all official records, and the other to utilize the old capitol. The first plan would only furnish temporary relief, as the Governor views the situation, while the latter would be sufficient for many years to come. The old capitol is being allowed to go to ruin, and in four or five years more, unless something is done with the building, there will be little left aside from the walls.
It has even been suggested by the Governor what departments could be removed to the old capitol. The first of these is the Supreme Court, which Judge Whitfield said some time ago, could occupy the Senate chamber of the old capitol. This would give ample room as there are several committee rooms the justice and commissioners could use for offices.
The adjutant general’s office could also be removed to the old capitol, along with the Railroad Commission and State library. By removing these departments to the old capitol, which would necessitate its repair and insure the building being preserved, the other State officers would have ample room for years to come. The Insurance Commissioner and the Revenue Agent are other State officers who could be removed to the old capitol, if necessary, as they have very little direct connection with the Governor.
Governor Noel may, though he did not intimate that he would, suggest in his last message to the legislature that some such plan be adopted. If he does, he will point out how, since the new capitol was built, the State has developed. At the time the new capitol was first occupied by the State officers, there was ample room, and it was not believed additional rooms would be necessary, but in less than a decade the State has outgrown this building, and more room will be necessary within the next five years.
What to do with the old capitol has been a mooted question ever since the new one was built. It was not believed, even four years ago, that the State would ever be crowded for room, as it is today, and it was suggested that the old capitol be torn down, sold or otherwise disposed of. The crowded condition of the new capitol will solve this question, it seems, as the State will have to spend probably $100,000 on it for repairs, before it can be occupied by anything except bats and sparrows, with any degree of comfort or safety.
This post is in the Capitols Old and New series. Want to read more? Click here!