Family Cool

Andrew Shumate, age 16, visiting grandmother in Olympia, Washington – “Come to Olympia while the Journey is there,” GMom said last week, so that’s what we did today, my father, my sister, and me. As we drove up to the capitol the first thing my father and I noticed was how dirty it looked! I mean that building is the center of our state government, where our politicians represent us, where our laws are made, and it looked like someone needed to give it a good hosing down. But I guess that isn’t really important considering the building’s amazing architecture. I visited this capitol ten years ago and didn’t think much about its design; I just thought it looked like a fancy government building. But this time around I was able to appreciate how amazing it really is, even if it looked somewhat dirty. I noticed the building was heavily influenced by Greek and Roman architecture. The building features a massive dome, which the tour guide later told us is the tallest masonry dome in North America. The entrance is supported by intricate Corinthian columns and the rest of the building is fitted with the not-so-intricate Doric columns. All of which originated from ancient Greek and Roman architecture. Having studied this stuff for several months I just had to inform everyone of my knowledge regarding this subject.

Before we climbed the steps to the front doors GMom told us there are 42 steps, representing Washington becoming the 42nd state. We all counted 45. Apparently you’re not supposed to count the landings. Once we entered the building and stood in the middle of the rotunda (more Roman architecture!) I was immediately astounded. The ceiling stood more than half a football field high and is so intricate and elegant I can’t fully describe it. The floor and walls are made entirely of marble with designs in them. From the ceiling hangs a massive 6.5 ton chandelier. The tour guide told us it was so large a Volkswagen Beetle could fit inside it. Now that’s cool.

The guide showed us the House and Senate chambers. Once again, these rooms are incredible. The walls of both chambers are made of marble, a colored marble from Europe. The ceilings once again have intricate carvings and patterns in them. Both of the chambers are really amazing. One interesting difference between the two is that members of the House vote electronically, meaning a vote only takes seconds, while the Senate still votes by having members call out their position one by one. They have a $1,000,000,000 home but they can’t get a more efficient voting system? Which brings me to another interesting fact our guide bought up.

When the capitol was built in 1928 it cost $7.4 million. That’s right, $7.4 million dollars, and now its estimated worth is over $1 billion, with a B. Even adjusted for inflation they seemed to get a pretty dang good deal. Apparently the two architects were young and new to the business, so they charged less.

The guide showed us some other rooms, like the entrance area to the governor’s office which has paintings of the past governors, and the reception room. Although we couldn’t enter the reception room because they had something going on in there today, we could see in through the windows and it is pretty neat. The room has fancy looking carpet and  heavy velvet curtains. And, of course, the room is lit by chandeliers and the walls are made of a very nice looking foreign marble.

One of the last things our guide showed us is a popular tourist spot for taking pictures: a bronze bust of George Washington. What is so special about this bust? Well, his nose is still clean and shiny because visitors like to rub his nose for good luck. We gathered around George and I did something a little different. I picked his nose instead of rubbing it. Hopefully he appreciated that.


As we left the capitol we took one last look at it. Yep, it still looked pretty dirty. But now I know how cool it really is.