December 28, 1930 • Fire broke out on the top floor of North Dakota’s Capitol building (located in Bismarck), destroying the 46-year-old building. The fire reputedly started from oily rags in a janitor’s closet. Two were injured trying to rescue records during the blaze. One particular item, the original copy of the state’s constitution, was saved by Secretary of State Robert Byrne.
For the following four years, workers managed state offices in several buildings, with the Legislature meeting in Bismarck’s War Memorial Building and the City Auditorium.
The present North Dakota Capitol building was constructed between 1931 and 1934 – during the middle of the Great Depression. The 19-story tower was constructed for $2 million and free public tours are available. The top floor features an observation deck with numerous photos of the original Capitol building fire, construction of the current Capitol and many more.