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Historical Essay

Capitol Collapse Disaster of 1883

Capitol collapse disaster (1883) | Wisconsin Historical Society
Dictionary of Wisconsin History.


On November 8, 1883, while workers were building additions to the south wing of the third capitol building, a large portion of structure collapsed, killing five workers. Frank Lloyd Wright was an eyewitness and left this account in his Autobiography: "The interior columns had fallen and the whole interior construction was a gigantic rubbish heap in the basement,.... Whitened by lime dust as sculpture is white, men with bloody faces came plunging wildly out of the basement entrance blindly striking out about their heads with their arms, fighting off masonry and falling beams. Some fell dead on the grass under the clear sky. Others fell insensible. One workman, lime-whitened too, hung head-downward from a fifth story window, pinned to the sill by an iron beam on a crushed foot, moaning the whole time. A ghastly red stram ran from him down the stone wall."

[Source: Frank Lloyd Wright, An Autobiography (N.Y., 1943), pp. 55-56]

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