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 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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