From 1854 to 1867 the seat of territorial and state government was in Omaha. In 1867 the State Legislature appointed a Capital Commission to select a location for the new state capitol. Commission members Governor David Butler, Auditor John Gillespie and Secretary of State Thomas P. Kennard on July 29, 1867 selected the present site.
In 1869 John K. Winchell of Chicago designed masonry homes in Lincoln for each of the Commissioners. These showplaces did much to instill confidence in Lincoln's future. Of these three structures, only the Kennard House stands today. It is apparently the oldest house within the original plat of Lincoln and is one of the finest remaining Nebraska examples of Italianate domestic architecture, the leading American style from about 1855 to 1875, Nebraska's pioneer period.
In 1965 the State Legislature designated the structure the "Nebraska Statehood Memorial" and assigned responsibility for the memorial to the Nebraska State Historical Society. Thus the house stands today, a symbol of the confidence early Nebraskans had in their state.