By the late 1880's, the Old Capitol Building erected in 1822 was becoming limited in space due to the inevitable expansion of state government. A public debate ensued as to whether a new Capitol should be erected, although many had a sentimental attachment to the old building and its Federal architecture, which had seen so much history throughout the 19th Century. As a compromise, a new building, to house the State Library and the display of the Commonwealth's cherished Civil War battle flags, was authorized to be built. It became a building which would set the Renaissance and NeoClassical Revival architectural theme not only for the old Capitol's replacement after its destruction by fire in 1897, but for the entire Capitol Complex that would later evolve in the early 20th Century. What was originally known as the Executive, Library and Museum Building was designed by Philadelphia architect John T. Windrim completed in 1894 and is the oldest surviving structure in the Capitol Complex. Not only did the new structure house the library and museum rooms for Pennsylvania's growing collection of artifacts and artworks, but also the offices of three Governors who served between 1894 and 1906. After that time, the present Capitol Building accommodated the office of the Governor as it does today. The building then became the Library and Museum Building, and upon completion of the current State Library in 1931, sered as the Pennsylvania State Museum until the present Museum and State Archives complex was built in 1964. Restored in the mid 1990's, the Old Museum Building, also known as the Capitol Annex, was renamed the Matthew J. Ryan (1932-2003) Legislative Office Building, in honor of the late Speaker of the House who was instrumental in the building's restoration.
Pre-construction rendering of the Old Executive, Library and Museum building. Pediment statuary never installed.
Front view of building shortly after completion in 1894.