‘A+ Capitol Posts’ Category

 

Golden Arches

Linda Burton posting from Denver, Colorado – The minute I stepped inside I felt the golden glow. There was no outside light filtering in, but there was warmth and color in every direction. Does it represent the discovery of gold near Denver in 1858? Or is it intended to remind visitors of the abundant golden sunshine Colorado is so proud of? The shapes are pleasing too — curving archways to walk through; an oval opening in the main floor to peer downward, a shiny golden railing at the edge. And just above each architecturally pleasing turn is a stripe of red, yes, I remember, Colorado literally means “color red.” Move on to the grand staircase in the rotunda; “grand” is not an overstating word, it’s gorgeous with more impressive curves and golden shine; above my head is the dazzling dome. Murals in warm and earthy tones curve around this central room; the walls below are a reddish marble like I’ve never seen before. Too much to comprehend, I head for the Visitor’s Desk to get a brochure; it’s time to get some facts. » read more

 
 
 

Beyond Numbers

Linda Burton posting from Bismarck, North Dakota – “Over 80 percent of this capitol building is usable space,” the tour guide said. “As compared to Minnesota, say, where they can use only 29 percent. They have that big dome.” The guide has more numbers and comparisons; the North Dakota capitol cost $2 million to build in 1934, the Nebraska capitol, also a highrise, cost $11 million, she says. That’s $.46 per square foot vs $1.10. Frugality was a major consideration when building the North Dakota capitol; this is a state that simply doesn’t spend what it doesn’t have. After the old capitol burned in 1930, they sold 160 acres of land and used insurance money from the burned building to pay for the new capitol. Workers threatened a strike part-way through; laborers asked for a raise from 30 cents an hour to 50. The governor called out the National Guard to protect the partially constructed building; workers were granted a 10 cent raise. Work continued, and the building was first occupied in January 1935. On time, and on budget. One thing I noticed right away; planning may have focused on frugal, and the outside may appear plain, but the building is impressive in its indoor elegance, and its streamlined efficiency. » read more

 
 
 

The Ah Factor

Linda Burton posting from Honolulu, Hawaii – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – kids love capitols. Why else would granddaughter Kayla make a statement like “I love this day!” as we returned to our room footsore and damp and too tired to think? We hadn’t been to Disneyland. We hadn’t been shopping for the latest “fads for girls.” We had been to the Hawaii State Capitol. We figured out the trolley lines (Red is the Historic Route), covered up our cameras with the bottom of our shirts (rain mist blew through the open trolley and wet us good); and off we went. Clang, clang, clang went the trolley; rain, rain, rain on our face; walk, walk, walk to the entrance, and then Kayla took off, Nikon around neck; squatting, standing, leaning, snapping shots of everything – the sky through the upward sweeping opening-instead-of-a-roof; the blue ceramic tiles circling in the center; the stones taking volcano shape on the side; images intended to evoke a feeling, show a certain attitude. Birds flew up, down, landed and skipped along the pavement at our feet; everyone we passed nodded and smiled. This was a happy place; how can I explain? » read more

 
 
 

The Wheels on the Bus

Linda Burton posting from Salem, Oregon – The buses brought the kids today. Three loads of them were sitting on the capitol steps as I approached; the girls were singing in a chant “Elvis Presley, girls are messy,” hands clapping on the beat. I pushed through the revolving door of the Oregon state capitol and found myself in the rotunda just as a group of students approached the center, taking their place around the seal embedded in the floor. The tour guide stepped beside me, “You’re welcome to join us,” he said and so I stayed, intent on hearing the story of the seal. It shines like gold, but the guide explained that it was brass. He pointed to the elk, the sheaf, the plow, the axe. He talked about the covered ox-drawn wagon, symbolizing the pioneers that came to Oregon. Then he pointed to the ships – one coming towards land, the other sailing away. “One is an American ship,” he said, “and one is British. Do you know why the British ship is going away?” The children waited expectantly for the next line. » read more

 
 
 

Do The Best You Can

Linda Burton posting from Boise, Idaho – “Look at me,” the Capitol Guide said. “I’m old. And your parents will get old. Someday this will be up to you.” He was speaking to a 4th-grade class from Twin Falls, seated in the Chambers of the House; each one perched at a representatives desk; school in session, big time. He waved his pointer stick around the room. “One of those desks could be yours someday. All these legislators were kids one day, just like you.” The children seemed attentive, perhaps a little doubtful though. The guide continued, “You need an education. Study everything you can. Read. But do you know the most important thing that you can do? Pay attention to what is going on.” Well gee, I thought, that’s what I’ve always said to kids. Pay attention. Study everything you can. I liked this Guide, a Capitol Volunteer. He wasn’t giving kids the “history talk,” he was giving them the “future walk.” I heard him say as I headed toward the Governor’s Office, “If you’re not able to go to college, don’t let that stop you. You do the best you can.”  » read more

 
 
 

Integrity and Fortitude

Linda Burton posting from Salt Lake City, UtahIntegrity met me as I climbed the steps. I’d parked across the street from the east entrance to the Utah State Capitol; walked the long sidewalk past the statue of the Indian Massasoit; and wondered about the two marble lions that watched my approach. Now I see; Integrity is to my right, Fortitude sits on the left. Inside, I blink as my eyes adjust to the cool gray interior, pleasant after the brilliant sun outside. A school tour is happening, children’s voices echo just a bit; greeters to my right ask if they can answer any questions or help with anything. I sign the Guest Book, pick up a colorful brochure; diagrams and paragraphs explain the opportunities; I plan out what I want to see. The door to the Capitol Visitor Center is beside me; I step in and see a boldly-lettered statement on a post. » read more

 
 
 

Prom Night

Linda Burton posting from Salt Lake City, Utah – “My daughter had her prom here,” our tour guide said as we stood in the rotunda of the Utah state capitol. There was an audible “ah” from our group as we gazed upward, 165 feet we were told, clear to heaven it seemed; clouds and seagulls soaring and floating in blue, blue sky. Imagine that! Girls in party dresses with flowers in their hair, boys in Sunday suits; dressed up and dancing on a glass-bottomed floor, lit up from below. Music in marble halls on top of the loveliest hill in town. It’s a party in the People’s House, just one of many events that happen here on a regular basis – proms, weddings, concerts, meetings; get-together for fun or for business, this building is open for your use. But back to that prom. » read more

 
 
 

Goddess of Liberty

Linda Burton posting from Austin, Texas — The Goddess of Liberty sits atop the Texas State Capitol dome, but I don’t find much information about why she was chosen. I was struck by the symbolism however, in my stroll around the capitol grounds and inside the building today. http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/SPB/capitol/texcap.htm

Out front a demonstration was going on, protesting cuts in funds for women’s health care. It was a lively group, rallying in red, making noise, being heard, speaking up. The Planned Parenthood bus was parked nearby, and demonstrations are scheduled for Tuesdays as these issues continue to be top-line news. Participants consented to my picture-taking efforts.

 Further up the walkway, I met Nicole, a University of Texas sophomore majoring in advertising. She was wandering the grounds with camera in hand, on assignment, looking for “something that was a defining moment in Texas history.” I asked permission to get her picture, and at my request, she took mine.

 Up at the Visitors Entrance, the line had gotten long. The two women in front of me were together, why had they come today? I didn’t ask, but noted one was armed with her camera.

 Tours were going off every 15 minutes. A little bit about the capitol, a little about Texas history, 45 minutes guided, or, you can tour the entire building on your own. Pamphlets in many languages are available to explain what you’re seeing. Davy Crockett’s portrait looms large, as do statues of Sam Houston, who served as President of the Republic of Texas, and Stephen Austin, for whom the capital city is named. In the rotunda, portraits of ex-governors surround. To the right of Ann Richards is George W Bush (accidental symbolism?). Current governor Rick Perry doesn’t get a portrait until he leaves office. Then everybody shifts over one position!

I had some lunch in the outstanding cafeteria downstairs and while resting on a bench near the gift shop met Wilma, a retired schoolteacher from Lubbock. We chatted about schools, and teaching, and changing times. She was there with her parents, her sister, and a nephew and niece. I met them too, a delightful family, headed for San Antonio after a few days in Austin. Spring break for the kids. “We have 25 grandchildren, four adopted,” bragged Wilma’s parents, offering pictures.

Back outside, a brilliant evening gown on the path ahead caught my attention. A young girl, pretty in pink, posing beside the capitol trees. Permission to get your picture? I asked. Two men, her father and her brother, armed with heavy-duty cameras, nodded in assent. “What is the occasion? Did you win a contest?” “No, I’m turning fifteen,” was her answer. A family that had been touring the capitol while I was inside squealed in delight at this photo-op and jumped to pose with her. Father and brother beamed.

The grounds were filled with kids chasing squirrels, bicycles propped against a tree while their riders rested beside, helmets on the ground; picnics spread for families; a lone laptopper concentrating over computer intricacies and the smell of fresh air. Over at the edge a woman sat on a bench, her little white dog beside.

The goddess of liberty stood watch over all.  I remembered the comment made to me by an excited young boy of ten as we waited for the capitol tour to begin. From Midland, he was there with his parents and sister for spring break time. “I’ve got a good feeling about this,” he said.