Cherokee Nation Renovating 140-Year-Old Capitol Building

Monday, January 7th 2013, 5:20 pm
By: Craig Day

The Cherokee Nation is working to save one of the oldest landmarks in Oklahoma.

It's a major renovation of the historic original Cherokee Capitol building, which has stood since the 1860s in what is now downtown Tahlequah.

"It's 140 years old, which, in Oklahoma, that's ancient," said Principal Chief Bill John Baker.

It's a magnificent old building; the first one built by the Cherokee Nation that housed all three branches of tribal government under one roof.

"It's probably the most photographed of all of our iconic structures," Baker said.

4/5/2010 Related Story: Historic Cherokee Nation Building To Be Rededicated

The iconic structure will be getting some much needed tender loving care.

At a special ceremony, Cherokee Nation leaders started a new restoration project that will preserve the structure, while protecting its late 1800s appearance.

"They're going to protect the moulding and all the trim on the building that they can. They'll replicate or reproduce those that they can't," Baker said.

He said there will be new doors and windows, a new back porch, and a dome structure on top, plus exterior waterproofing.

The building will also get a new roof, but with historic era shingles.

Historians and architects are taking care to make sure the historic character of the building is kept and enhanced.

"[It's an] opportunity to help protect and preserve part of our culture and heritage of the Cherokee Nation," Baker said.

The $500,000 project should be finished this summer.

Baker calls the project historic for the Cherokee Nation.

"We hope, in 500 years, this building is still standing, still protected," he said.

The Cherokee Supreme Court currently meets in the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The preservation is funded through federal funds from the Save America's Treasure Program.