Sunday, June 5, 2016

Capitol Building

We toured our state capitol building. It was recently restored and is absolutely gorgeous, inside and out!

Because of security issues, visitors now enter the building at the basement level.
This is actually kind of cool, because you get to see the huge pillars and vaulted ceilings that hold up the building.
The corridors are lined with historical photographs, which gave me such appreciation for the workers who built this place without any modern tools or machinery!
All the hallways of the capitol lead to the rotunda under the dome. It is stunning! I could not stop taking pictures of it.

The entire interior of the building has been restored to the colors and patterns that were originally part of the 1870's design - paint colors, wall decorations, carpeting patterns, everything. There is marble and brass everywhere and the entire building seems to glow. Every tiny detail is just beautiful.

Even the stairways are beautiful. (All that lovely brown shade, even underneath the steps, is copper!)

We rode in the official State Elevator, a fascinating antique one with an operator.

The state legislature was not in session, which gave us the chance to tour their chambers at our leisure. The Senate meets in a room that is eye-popping lavish. Our guide referred to it as "ostentatious".

How does anyone even dream up details like this?  Then we visited the House of Representatives. It wasn't quite as fancy (lavishly carved wood instead of marble) but still unbelievably ornate.

Plus, it had paintings on the ceiling...
...and the fanciest door hinges I'd ever seen,
I don't agree with most of what our legislators do, or don't do, when they are in session but they certainly have beautiful places to work!

We also toured the library, which was my family's favorite room in the statehouse.
It was wonderfully old fashioned and ornate. Our guide told us that it is the people's library and that anyone with a Kansas library card can check out books here. It's a nice sentiment, although most of the titles are dull tomes of law.
This is the library ceiling!
The upper floor of the library has a glass floor! Our guide explained that when it was built, even the best lighting available was so poor that if the flooring had been made of wood it would have been too dark to read the titles on the shelves underneath. Thick glass panels on an iron frame were used instead, so that light would filter down to the stacks below, Obviously, lighting has improved, but the glass floor was too cool to replace. There are also "book elevators", like dumbwaiters used to raise or lower books to the other level so that someone doesn't have to carry them up and down the spiral staircase. It's easy to see why we adored the library!
We also visited what was originally the State Supreme Court chambers. The court has moved to another building, but the room is still used for hearings and law related meetings.
The original heating registers were left during restoration because they give such character to the building.
Finally, we visited the governor's ceremonial office. I have been quite open in my dislike for the Governor. So has much of the state. Just this week he was ranked as the worst governor in the nation, a distinction that is nothing to be proud about. Thankfully, he wasn't there so we didn't have to pretend to be nice to him, something Rachel had worried about,
This office was a room that exists only for photo opportunities, any work that the Governor does is done is a private office elsewhere.
I suppose it is fitting that the room was fake and that it is was empty. The Governor was no where around and neither he nor his legislature was paying any attention to the needs of the people.

I am so glad that we visited the capitol building. I had been there before, years ago, but I had not remembered how incredibly beautiful it is. I am humbled by the work that went into creating it and am so grateful that the citizens of this newly created state had the foresight to build something so magnificent and build it so well that it is still in beautiful condition nearly 140 years later. Touring this building made me proud to be a Kansan. If you haven't been to the capitol lately, you really should go.

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