Monday, June 22, 2015

Kentucky State Capitols - How Times Change

Kentucky is another state that has preserved its original capitol building while building a new one. The Old Capitol you see here is actually the third capitol building on this site - the previous two were destroyed by fire!  This one is built of Kentucky River marble and presumably fire-proof.  I thought it odd that the building has no windows in the front until I learned that the architect modeled it after a Greek temple, which has no windows.

On the walk way leading to the front door is a plaque embedded in the brick.

William Goebel fell here

I thought it was a little weird and then I saw this:

Statue of William Goebel

Martyr Governor??

Upon further research, I discovered that William Goebel was governor of Kentucky for only 4 days in 1900 when he was assassinated.  He was an abrasive man who had many political enemies, but the people of Kentucky loved him.  The plaque?  It denotes where the governor fell after being shot on his way to his inauguration!

The New Capitol (actually 110 years old, so it's all relative!) is a beautiful building.  The interior is almost completely made of marble and, well, I'll just let you see the pictures.

Abraham Lincoln in the center of the rotunda
Did you know he was born in Kentucky? 

Henry Clay
Also a Kentuckian, he was the first person to lie in state in the nation's capitol.

Interior views
The rotunda changes colors if you look at it long enough and the marble everywhere is so shiny and lovely.

This capitol has a reception room, a feature we've not seen in other state buildings.

And, arguably, the most well known Kentuckian in the world, Col Sanders!

There were several interesting exhibits on display in the hallways.  This one is a large series of watercolors called "Kentucky Women Remembered."  Acknowledging the role women have played in Kentucky history, the collection began in 1996 and grows each year as new nominees are added.  These are just a few of the women and their accomplishments.

From the upper left, clockwise:
1. Anna Mac Clarke, first African American WAAC to command a white platoon
2. Rosemary Clooney, one of the world's greatest jazz band vocalists
3. Loretta Lynn, received more awards than any other woman in country music history
4. Margaret Ingles, first American woman to earn a master's degree in mechanical engineering; also pioneered the development of air conditioning
5. Dr. Sarah Richardson, performed the first successfully recorded surgery for the treatment of breast cancer
6. Esther Whitely, with her husband, built the first "American" horse race track where the horses ran counterclockwise on a clay track

The watercolors themselves are beautiful and I spent a good deal of time reading the biographies.  Kentucky women have contributed, not only to Kentucky, but to the world.  This is an amazing exhibit!

Also displayed was a counted cross stitch art piece representing each county in Kentucky.  I would have loved to be able to interpret each square but there was no guide available, so I just enjoyed the handiwork.

The counties of Kentucky

Another interesting display was the hall that contained cabinets of Kentucky First Ladies in their inaugural gowns from the very first governor's wife to the current.  It was fascinating to see the change in fashion through the years!

Kentucky First Ladies

The grounds of the capitol are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen.  I admire the gardeners who work in this oppressively heavy heat and humidity to keep the gardens lovely.

A huge hanging basket

Floral Clock
Created in 1961, it keeps perfect time!

View from the front door
Not the greatest picture, but stunning in real life.

The Governor's mansion is next door to the Capitol and is very impressive.  It's just a little step up from the old governor's mansion!

1912 - now

1797 - 1910

The state capitol city of Frankfort is has a population of only about 25,000, it's very easy to get around in and the parking is free.  The historic district is full of homes from the 1700s on and each is marked with a plaque telling the history of the house.  We walked the downtown a bit and had lunch at an outdoor cafe.

Downtown Frankfort

Across the street from the old capitol.  
Can you imagine what stories these buildings could tell?

Lunch at an Mexican restaurant

We had such an enjoyable afternoon touring these historic places.  And, on the way out, we came across an unexpected treat (for me, anyway!) - A Frank Lloyd Wright home!  

Frank Lloyd Wright house
Built in 1910, this is Wright's famous prairie design.  It is the only building of his design erected in Kentucky during his lifetime.

This is one of the reasons I love to travel - the things you find when you take a wrong turn or decide to explore off the beaten path.  Frankfort is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon or even a few days.  I would love to return some day!

Until next time...

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