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John Harris' Gift

  • Capitol Park, 3rd & Walnut Streets Harrisburg, PA 17101

When John Harris, Jr. was laying out the city of Harrisburg in 1785 with his son-in-law and surveyor, William Maclay, he set aside a four acre plot of land “to be held in trust until the Legislature see fit to use it”. In 1810, the Pennsylvania Legislature voted to move the capital to Harrisburg. Two years later, the General Assembly moved into a temporary location in Harrisburg that remained in use until 1819 when the Legislature finally saw fit to use Harris’s gift. Then-Governor William Findlay laid the cornerstone for Pennsylvania’s first capitol building in Harrisburg. The building would remain in used until it was destroyed by fire in 1897.