The North Carolina General Assembly met in the State Capitol from 1840 until the State Legislative Building was completed in January 1963, and in 2013, we celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
The home of the North Carolina General Assembly is unique in that it is devoted solely to the legislative branch of the state government. Containing facilities necessary for the efficient functioning of the General Assembly, the building includes not only Senate and House Chambers but also committee rooms and offices for members and their staff. Throughout, provisions are made for easy public access and observation of legislative procedures.
Though not an imitation of historic classical architectural styles, the building is classical in character. Rising from a broad 340-foot wide podium of North Carolina granite, the marble-faced building proper is encompassed by a colonnade of square columns reaching from the podium to the main roof of the second floor.
As visitors enter from the south (Jones Street), they cross a 28-foot diameter terrazzo mosaic of the great Seal of the State of North Carolina. From this main entrance, the red-carpeted main staircase leads directly to the third floor where the visitor may view the Senate and House Chambers, enter the auditorium, or enter the roof area. Located in the basement are the cafeteria, snack bar, and mail room, as well as General Assembly Police and the Personnel Office.
Committee rooms and members’ offices are located on the first floor. At the south center are the news media service areas with space for newspaper, radio, and television representatives to work. There is also space there for members to hold press conferences.
A special feature of the building, the garden courts, is located at the four corners of the first floor. Most committee rooms and offices are entered from the courts. Each, though different from the others, contains seating space for visitors. All courts are landscaped, and three have pools.
The two chambers occupy the east and west wings of the second floor. Following the traditional relationship of the two chambers in the Capitol, the House and Senate are at opposite sides of the rotunda. When the main doors are open, the two presiding officers face one another.
Directions to the Legislative Building
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Helpful Information for visitors
Click here for a handy guide showing the State Legislative Building, the Capitol, and many other State Government buildings. Public parking is available in three visitor’s lots. Visitor’s lot #1 is located at the corner of Jones Street and Wilmington Street. Visitor’s lot #2 is located in the 300 block of North Salisbury Street and can also be accessed from the 300 block of North McDowell Street. Visitors lot #3 is located at the corner of Edenton and McDowell Streets. Rates are charged by the hour and the parking lots are controlled by the Department of Administration. Other city owned lots and private lots are available throughout the downtown area. Public spaces are available on some of the streets in the area of the Legislative Complex but parking is limited to Members and authorized staff on the streets adjoining the Legislative Complex. Visit the State Parking Division website for more information and State Parking maps.
The Legislative Building has both a Cafeteria and a Snack Bar (both located in the basement). The cafeteria is open to the public from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm Monday-Friday year round. The Legislative Building Snack Bar is open from 7:00 am – 3:00 pm Monday-Friday year round with extended hours when the Legislature is in session. Both are very inexpensive and have a friendly and efficient staff. And you never know who’ll you see there.
Tours of the Legislative Building are offered through the State Visitors Services and by calling the Legislative Building. All tours begin at the Legislative Information Desk and brochures are available there. Tour guides lead a 30 minute tour for scheduled groups; and information will be provided for self guided tours. Building hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 am until 5:00 pm; Saturday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm; Sunday 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm. For more information call 919-733-7929.
Only Members of the House and Senate, the officers of each Chamber, permanent employees of the General Assembly who have been issued identification tags, former members, Sergeant-at-Arms staff, pages, and reporters are allowed on the House floor while the House is in session.
The public is welcome to watch the proceedings from the galleries when the house and the Senate are in session, accessible from the third floor of the State Legislative Building. No passes are required, but on opening day and ceremonial days seating may be limited. Visitors are seated on a first-come basis and must at all times respect the decorum of the chamber.
Laptops and other electronic devices are permitted and wireless internet is available throughout the Legislative Building at no charge. No smoking is permitted inside any buildings in the Legislative Complex. Photography is allowed. Applause, demonstrations, and food and beverages are prohibited in the galleries. The public is also allowed to attend committee meetings.
For a complete list of rules to observe when you are visiting the Legislative Building in Raleigh, click here.