Thursday, August 20, 2015

Virginia State Capitol

 Adding another state capitol to our list, we visited the Virginia State Capitol while in Richmond.  Situated high on a hill, originally overlooking the James river, the center portion of the building is the original structure designed by Thomas Jefferson and built in 1788.  The wings were added in 1906 to handle the growing needs of the government.

Thomas Jefferson

Entering through the visitor center, which is built under the lawn in front of the capitol building, you are greeted by the statue of Thomas Jefferson.  This capitol building, designed by Jefferson, was the first public building in the New World constructed in the Monumental Classical style and it has served as the prototype for countless capitols, courthouses, municipal buildings and even residences ever since.  

George Washington
A life sized statue of George Washington graces the rotunda of the capitol.  It is the only statue ever created that he actually posed for and is considered to be extremely accurate, down to a missing button on his coat.

Rotunda ceiling
If you look back at the picture of the outside of the capitol, you will see no dome on the building.  So, how can you have a rotunda?  The dome is built completely inside the building and illuminated with skylights.

Second floor

Virginia state motto - "thus always to tyrants"

The interior of the capitol is very much what you think of as colonial style.  The colors and lack of ornamentation was surprising to me.  It's very beautiful, but certainly not as ornately decorated as other capitols we've seen.  All the ornamentation you see is done with paint, not 3 dimensional plaster or marble.


Desk upgrade

The desks in the Senate and House chambers are not original, but copied from one that is in the Museum of the Confederacy.  As you can see, upgrades were made to accommodate work needs in the current century!

Portraits of John Smith and Pocahontas
Our guide told us that no one really knows what Pocahontas looks like, so this is just some artist's interpretation of her.

A statue of Robert E. Lee graces the original Senate room

The state of Virginia has done a very good job of preserving this historical building that houses the oldest continuing legislature in the Western hemisphere.  The adaptations for modern governing have been carefully done and, while seemingly plain and relatively unadorned, you get a real sense of history when taking in the building.

Until next time...

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