Originally called the State House, the Old Capitol has served three functions in its long history: state capitol from 1839 to 1903, state office building from 1917 to 1959, and state historical museum from 1961 to the present. Construction was authorized by the 1833 Mississippi legislature shortly after the Constitution of 1832 ensured that Jackson would be the capital until at least 1850.
The construction of a capitol of such grandeur in a town with dirt streets and boardwalks and fewer than 1,000 people represented the bold vision Americans had for their young nation.
The Mississippi State House was first used in January 1839 for a special session of the legislature, although the interior of the building was not completed until the fall of 1840.
After sixty-four years as the seat of state government, the building was abandoned in 1903 when the New Capitol was built to provide more space for an expanding government. As the Old Capitol deteriorated from neglect, attempts were made to demolish it. Through the efforts of women's preservation groups, the building was saved from destruction and was turned into a state office building in 1917. Several state agencies including the Board of Health, the Department of Education, and the Department of Agriculture once called the Old Capitol Office Building home.
In 1959, the Board of Health moved to a new building and Governor James Plemon Coleman initiated the complete restoration of the Old Capitol to house the State Historical Museum, which opened in 1961.
The museum, administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, was one of the first in the nation accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1972. In 1991, the Old Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Old Capitol Museum Online