March 4, 2015 •

U.S. Statehouse Series – Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes

Welcome back to the statehouse where we will be exploring the Minnesota Capitol. When its white dome first swims into view there is a shock of surprise, then a rapidly growing delight in its pure beauty, and as one studies […]

Welcome back to the statehouse where we will be exploring the Minnesota Capitol.

Minnesota State Capitol

When its white dome first swims into view there is a shock of surprise, then a rapidly growing delight in its pure beauty, and as one studies the building, inside and out, the surprise and delight increase. One leaves it with regret and with the hope of return.
-Kenyon Cox, Architectural Record, August 1905

The Minnesota statehouse, completed in 1905, is located in the capital of St. Paul. The building looks very similar to St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. In fact, St. Peter’s has the largest unsupported marble dome in the world, and the marble dome of the Minnesota statehouse is the second largest. A golden sculpture called The Progress of the State sits at the base of the dome. It depicts a chariot pulled by four horses with two women and a man in the chariot. The statue symbolizes civilization and prosperity being driven by the classical elements of earth, air, fire, and water. When the weather permits, visitors can go on the roof to get a close-up view of the statue. Take a look at the Minnesota Historical Society to find out more about the artwork and history of the building.

There are also monuments for Women’s Suffrage and Christopher Columbus on the grounds of the statehouse. Many of the original fixtures are still in use. When the building was being constructed, electric lighting and telephones were state-of-the-art. The Ohio architect, Cass Gilbert, insisted on the best technology for the statehouse. Since then, the building has always had the latest in technology. Gilbert’s conscientious style resulted in many ornate carvings and statues around the building and hundreds of specially designed pieces of furniture.

Thank you for staying with us on our journey through the statehouses!

Photo of the Minnesota State Capitol by Jonathunder on Wikimedia Commons.

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February 26, 2015 •

U.S. Statehouse Series – Florida, The Sunshine State

Welcome! In this episode of the statehouse series we will travel to the southern state of Florida. Everybody has heard of Florida’s great climate, beautiful scenery, and access to beaches at both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, […]

Florida State CapitolWelcome! In this episode of the statehouse series we will travel to the southern state of Florida.

Everybody has heard of Florida’s great climate, beautiful scenery, and access to beaches at both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, but not many know about Florida’s capitol buildings. The old capitol building was built in 1845, and it has had several additions since then. In 1902, the dome was constructed by architect Frank Millburn and was the first main addition. The next major expansion came in 1923 with the addition of two wings and a marble interior, with the help of Henry Klutho. Then another two wings were added, with the House wing finished in 1936 and the Senate wing in 1947.

As the population in Florida grew, so did the need for government services. The local government had outgrown the old building. Construction on the new capitol was authorized to start in 1972.

In the late 70s, the Old Capitol came under threat of demolition because the new one was being built behind it. Through the action of Florida citizens, the Old Capitol was saved and resorted to its 1902 appearance, which took four years (1978-1982). The Old Capitol has since been turned into a museum and office for the Florida Legislative Research Center, which keeps all legislative history for the state of Florida.

The New Capitol contains a House and Senate building and twenty-two story executive offices. Both wings have domes. The building contains the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame on the northern rotunda and the Artist’s Hall of Fame. Visit Tour the Florida Capitol to learn more about the history, artwork, and virtual tours!

Thanks for joining us on our historic tour of Florida’s statehouse. Be sure to visit again when we explore yet another capitol!

Photo of the Old and New Florida State Capitols by Infrogmation on Wikimedia Commons.

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February 18, 2015 •

U.S. Statehouse Series – Hawaii, The Aloha State

Aloha! Welcome to this week’s episode of statehouse series. Today, as you might be able to guess, we are exploring the statehouse of Hawaii. As the last state to enter the United States, it is appropriate that Hawaii also has […]

Hawaii_state_capitol_from_the_south-eastAloha! Welcome to this week’s episode of statehouse series. Today, as you might be able to guess, we are exploring the statehouse of Hawaii.

As the last state to enter the United States, it is appropriate that Hawaii also has one of the newest statehouses. It was completed in 1969 in the Hawaiian international style, which emphasizes clean lines and neutral colors. This style was influenced by the famous German Bahaus movement, but Hawaii made this style its own with the construction of the statehouse. It includes local koa wood, and the dome is designed to look like a volcano. The number eight is incorporated throughout the building and its architecture to symbolize the eight Hawaiian Islands, usually with the grouping of columns. The statehouse complex also includes a reflecting pool, a metaphor of the Pacific Ocean.

Hawaii State Capitol interiorThe old statehouse, Iolani Palace, is now a museum. It was built in 1882 by King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani and was home to Hawaii’s final monarchs. The palace now holds quilting classes and free concerts every week. The museum is always searching for new artifacts to include for the purpose of restoring the palace to its original state. The Pulama Ia Program allows individuals or organizations to sponsor a partial or complete restoration of an object. These objects usually go into the permanent exhibits, which include historic photos, glassware, and silver. Both the current statehouse and the Iolani Palace convey Hawaii’s rich history.

Thank you for taking the time to journey with us across the country to Hawaii. We hope you enjoyed this episode, and please be sure to return again ready to explore some more!

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January 28, 2015 •

U.S. Statehouse Series – Alaska, Land of the Midnight Sun

Today we will be visiting the Alaska capitol and learning about its history. The first Alaska statehouse was located in Elks Lodge Hall in Juneau, the current capital. Legislators started meeting there in 1913 after Alaska became a territory of […]

Alaska State Capitol BuildingToday we will be visiting the Alaska capitol and learning about its history.

The first Alaska statehouse was located in Elks Lodge Hall in Juneau, the current capital. Legislators started meeting there in 1913 after Alaska became a territory of the United States. Juneau was chosen as the capital over much debate. The cities of Sitka and Anchorage were favored by those in south-central, western, and interior Alaska because Juneau was difficult to access in the winter. However, Juneau had superior communication with the federal government and was an established mining town.

It took another 18 years after the choosing of Juneau for a statehouse to be built. The federal government was short on funds because of World War I, but the people of Juneau raised the rest of the amount in time for the statehouse to be completed in 1931.

The statehouse sits on almost 5 acres in Juneau near the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It was built in Art Deco style. The main material in the building is limestone from Prince of Wales Island in the southeastern part of the state. There is a replica of the Liberty Bell in the front of the building. In fact, every state was given one in 1950 in a campaign to promote federal savings bonds. The lobby has carvings depicting the abundance of natural resources, a crucial source of economic stability for Alaska.

There are designs in the works for a new statehouse. It will have an egg-shaped dome and a number of public spaces to encourage visitors. The new statehouse will be more environmentally friendly and inclusive of Alaskan motifs, such as the use of local stone and wood. It will even be constructed to preserve the views from other buildings. You can take a video tour of the Capital Building with Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell in this video.

Thanks for joining us once again on yet another statehouse tour.

Photo of the Alaska State Capitol by Jay Galvin on Wikimedia Commons.

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January 6, 2015 •

U.S. Statehouse Series – Louisiana, The Pelican State

Welcome back to yet another episode of the Statehouse Series. In this episode, we will journey south to Louisiana to learn about its capitol’s history. Towering at 34 feet tall, Louisiana’s statehouse, although one of nine capitols without a dome, […]

Welcome back to yet another episode of the Statehouse Series. In this episode, we will journey south to Louisiana to learn about its capitol’s history.

Towering at 34 feet tall, Louisiana’s statehouse, although one of nine capitols without a dome, stands as the tallest state capitol. Recognizing this feature, architects added an observation deck on the 27th floor where one can look out over the meticulously managed, Versailles-like gardens. Along with the garden, many parts of the building symbolize Louisiana’s French roots with this style. However, the American roots can also be seen through the building’s Art Deco, a characteristic shared with the Chrysler building in New York and Cincinnati’s Union Terminal.

A grand building deserves a grand entrance, and so 49 steps lead to the main entrance of the statehouse, each step engraved with a state in the order in which they were admitted into the United States. Consequently, since there are only 49 steps, the last step features both Alaska and Hawaii. Adding to the building’s historic significance, the floor of the main hallway is made from lava from Mount Vesuvius, which buried the lost city of Pompeii in 79 AD.

Although many people worked to construct the building, it was beloved Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long who created the original ideas for the statehouse. Unfortunately, he was assassinated in 1935 during his presidential campaign. Yet his love for the statehouse was so much that his body was buried on its grounds, marked by his statue that still stands today.

We hope you enjoyed this series episode of the Louisiana statehouse. Be sure to visit again when we travel to another state capitol!

Photo of the Louisiana Statehouse by Farragutful on Wikimedia Commons.

The U.S. Statehouse Series is a project of the State and Federal Communications team of summer interns: Alessandra Dickos, Zack Koozer, Elaina Laikos, and Rachel Rodgers.

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December 3, 2014 •

U.S. Statehouse Series – Colorado, The Centennial State

This week we visit the state of Colorado and its capitol building. Located in the “Mile High City” of Denver, the capitol building was constructed in the 1890’s, and almost two decades later a 24 karat gold plated dome was […]

US State Houses logoThis week we visit the state of Colorado and its capitol building.

Located in the “Mile High City” of Denver, the capitol building was constructed in the 1890’s, and almost two decades later a 24 karat gold plated dome was added in commemoration of Colorado’s gold rush days.

Colorado State CapitolThe building’s exterior is composed of Colorado white granite, while its interior contains two rare types of marble: rose and mauve. In fact, the marble was so rare that its known supply was completely used up in the construction of the capitol, a process that took six years to complete. In fact, the building itself was composed with the nation’s capitol in mind.

The interior is composed of brass and stained glass with the dome towering 180 feet above. Inside you’ll find beautifully painted portraits of each U.S. president from Washington to Clinton. On the first floor are the offices of the Governor and Lt. Governor.

The capitol also serves as the center for legislation, housing the House and Senate Chambers, as well as the Legislative Hearing Room, which was formerly the state Supreme Court Chambers. The House of Representatives Gallery and the Senate Gallery are magnificently decorated with beautiful stained glass pieces as well as embedded brass, its luxurious features complemented with comfortable theater seating.

Thank you once again for joining us this week during our exploration of and education on the wonderful state of Colorado’s capitol. You can take a virtual tour of the Colorado Capitol, or arrange for an actual tour here.

Don’t forget to join us as we take on yet another statehouse!

Photo of the Colorado State Capitol by Greg O’Beirne on Wikimedia Commons.

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