When the 1963 General Assembly convened, it was in the brand new Legislative Building. Construction of the building had taken two years and cost $6.2 million. The building's architects considered the structure a "bargain" at a cost of $1.20 per Tar Heel citizen.
Features of the new structure included red carpets and a 28-foot diameter terrazzo mosaic of the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina. All this finery caused some to speculate whether lawmakers would be tempted to linger in session, but citizens could rest assured that the historic State Capitol building would not be abandoned.
Will the Old Gray Lady of Capitol Square be overshadowed by her gleaming younger sister down Halifax Street?
Most Tar Heels would say emphatically "no."
The gray granite Capitol building will continue to be a pride of the State, and will continue to serve as useful and important function in State government even though the General Assembly will no longer meet in her 19th century halls but will gather instead in the State House.
Simply because the Governor's offices will continue in the Capitol, it will be an important government structure.
The lawmakers are in town only four months every two years. The chief executive runs Tar Heel government in the meantime. And even working out of the 19th century decor, he will maintain a powerful hold over the gentlemen of the Assembly in their spacious, pyramidal quarters.
As the Assembly leaves it forever, the Capitol hums with gubernatorial activity, and still houses the offices of the Secretary of State and the state Treasurer.
Remaining, too, will be the immense historic tug of the Old Gray Lady, which has been the seat of Tar Heel government for 122 years.
Reflecting its historical value, the House and Senate chambers in the Capitol will be maintained in their present decor by the State Department of Archives and History.
General Services Director George Cherry, whose agency is in charge of Capitol housekeeping, promises she will get loving attention.
Cherry's schedule calls for a complete re-painting of the Capitol interior every three or four years. Her next refurbishing will probably come in 1964.
Her stolid granite superstructure, which periodically greens over with a patina of age, is ageless and needs little attention.
The departure of the Assembly was a blessing for Capitol furnishings, some of which date from Civil War days. They were beginning to show the wear of use. Now, that wear will be prized for its antique value.
The former chambers of the Assembly will probably continue to be used periodically, especially for swearing-in ceremonies, for meetings of the University of North Carolina trustees, and for historic occasions called by the executive branch of government.
The Assembly will leave its historic records in the Capitol. In small third floor offices, row on row of files contain the original acts of the General Assembly, irreplaceable records which are in the charge of the Secretary of State.-- The News & Observer 2/3/1963
One item considered a symbol of legislative government was missing from the modern state house. There would be no spittoons on the terrazzo floors. By 1963, pipe and cigarette smoking had replaced most snuff-sniffing and tobacco chewing habits. Not to mention that spittoons were getting harder to come by. They were mostly considered "antique" items by this time and would not "blend with the building's modernistic style."