Situated at 5,280 feet - exactly one mile above sea level- the Colorado State Capitol building is the only United States capitol building with that distinction. Two hundred ounces of gold mined from Colorado cover the dome of the capitol, located in downtown Denver. It is the current seat of the Colorado legislature.


In 1867 Denver was chosen as the capital of the Colorado Territory, replacing Golden (which had replaced Colorado City.) At the same time Denver was chosen, the decision to build a statehouse was also made even though the territory was cash-poor, having approximately $25,000 in assets. Territorial governor Alexander C. Hunt appointed a Capitol Committee to get the ball rolling on construction, which they started by trying to get someone to donate ten acres of land for the capitol's placement. That someone was Henry C. Brown, who thought his property nearby would benefit from being near the capitol; by January 11, 1868 the title was transferred. For the next several years, nothing further was done with the statehouse which made Brown angry. In 1875 he demanded $50,000 worth of improvements to be made to the land over the next year or Brown would take his land back.

Colorado became a state on August 1, 1876 with the provision in the state constitution for the capital of Colorado to be chosen by general election on November 8, 1881. Since there was no guarantee Denver would be picked as the capital, no improvements were made to the site Brown donated and he attempted to take the property back on May 11, 1879 by erecting a fence around the land. Lawsuits were filed, and the state of Colorado prevailed on January 4, 1886 with a ruling from the United States Supreme Court. In the meantime, Colorado voters picked Denver as the capital in 1881.


A law passed by the legislature in 1885 earmarked construction funds ($200,000 per year for the next five years), set a completion date of January 1, 1890 for the building, and decreed the construction materials had to be native to the state and not available cheaper elsewhere. Elijah E. Myers' architectural design was picked on August 31, 1885 and final plans for construction were submitted on January 2, 1886. Contractor W.D. Richardson was hired in 1886 to build the capitol and fired by 1888 for financial malfeasance; the firm of Geddis and Seerie was hired to finish the job.

Eight years after construction began enough of the capitol was completed to allow the governor to move his offices into the building. The idea to use gold leaf to cover the dome was proposed in 1903 by Denver architect F.E. Edbrooke. By 1908, over twenty years from the start of construction, the dome was covered in leaf, an electric light was placed on the top of the dome, and the capitol was finally complete at a cost of $2.8 million.