Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina House met in the old State Capitol chambers Thursday to honor the 220th anniversary of the establishment of a permanent seat of state government in Raleigh.
Before 1788, the House – and its predecessor, the House of Burgesses – met in different cities around the state. In 1788, they voted to select a central site that would become the seat of state government.
Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake, said legislators chose the area now known as Raleigh for a very specific reason.
"The original mandate required that the new capitol be held within 10 miles of Isaac Hunters’ tavern," Murry said. "Not just a plantation – they wanted to be close enough to the best watering hole in town.
"The more things change, the more things stay the same," he added to laughter from the other members.
Their first session in Raleigh's first Capitol Building was held in 1794. Murry read from legislative records that say lawmakers of the time opened the building to use for dinners, theatrical performances, religious meetings and even balls and parties.
"It was the 'People's House,' and the people were allowed to use it," he said.
That original building burned down in 1831 to be replaced with the current Capitol building on the same spot. Lawmakers continued to meet there until 1963, when they moved to the Legislative Building.
Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, said the session in the old building served as a reminder "that whatever we do for the good or the ill of this state, in the end, the state survives and will endure long after we're gone."