During the over 150 years that Old Capitol has served Iowa as a seat of government and education, it has become a symbol of pride and excellence for The University of Iowa, Iowa City and the state. When Old Capitol's cornerstone was laid on Independence Day in 1840, Iowa City became the first "permanent" capital of Iowa, where the last four Iowa territorial legislatures met. In Old Capitol, Iowa made the transition to statehood. Here, the first governor was inaugurated, the first six Iowa general assemblies met, and the state's constitution-still the fundamental law of the state-was drafted.
When the state government moved to Des Moines in 1857, Old Capitol was deeded to The University of Iowa and became the first building owned by the University. The UI's charter was made official by the First Iowa General Assembly in 1847 in Old Capitol, just 59 days after Iowa's final admission to statehood. The University opened its doors to students in March 1855, conducting classes in a rented building. Since 1857 Old Capitol has been a focal point of the University, serving as library, chapel, and armory and providing space for classrooms and offices as the University grew. Today, it continues to serve both functionally and symbolically, housing offices and highlighting the University's progress.