The Iowa Capitol building in Des Moines opened to visitors 134 years ago. It is now closed to the public, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Capitol is being deep-cleaned and it is closed through at least March 31st. A spokesman for House Speaker Pat Grassley says legislative leaders will reevaluate the situation then. The Iowa House and Senate convened in the building Monday and early Tuesday morning voted to suspend the 2020 legislative session, with plans to return April 15th.
It’s not clear if this is the first time the Capitol has been closed to the public. There was a massive fire in the building in 1904, but the damage was mainly confined to the House chamber and areas used by the Iowa Supreme Court.
In October of 1918, during the Spanish flu epidemic, the Board of Health closed all schools, churches and “places of…congregation” in Des Moines, which likely would have included the Capitol.