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State Capitols
A Never-ending Hobby . . .

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Contributors' Corner

statecapitols.tigerleaf.com
What's On Top, Statues of Eagles

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Idaho — Dome, Cupola, Eagle

Idaho capitol dome
image courtesy of Travelin'Librarian
through Creative Commons

The Dome
This unusually tall dome is made of concrete and steel, and is roofed with terra cotta tiles. The windows, or ports, are similar in design to those on the National Capitol.

close-up of dome port
detail from
image at right

The Capitol of Light
The first portion of the Idaho state capitol building to be constructed (1905-1912) was the center including the rotunda and dome, with the house and senate wings added later. The dome and drums have many large windows and ports, more than most similarly designed capitols. The roof of the whole center section of the building also has many skylights, as can be seen in the picture below. This allows a great deal of sunlight into the upper levels especially, and into the rotunda. The light was a major feature of this architectural design by J.E.Tourtellotte and Company.

Gilded eagle
image courtesy of BLsMg

The Eagle
The original capitol plans called for a flag on top of the dome. During construction, the gilded eagle was substituted. It is 5-feet, 7-inches tall and made of solid copper.


Cupola and eagle

 

Eagle Faces DC?
The Idaho capitol eagle faces southwest with his head turned northwest, which is not toward DC.

image courtesy of
Nick/KC7CBF

Idaho capitol skylights
detail from image at right

Numerous skylights are visible in this image of the Idaho capitol roof.

The design theme continues in the lower levels with light shafts to provide additional natural lighting. Why? For John Tourtellotte, light was a metaphor for an enlightened and moral state government. His Idaho capitol is known as "The Capitol of Light."

Aerial capitol image by MS Bing
image courtesy of MS Bing

Later renovations and additions to the building have maintained the enlightened atmosphere. Additions have more large skylights, and when some original light shafts were converted to house modern conveniences, like electrical wiring and the heating system, panels with back lighting were installed to preserve the effect.

 
More on Idaho:
Telling Them Apart, General Impressions
Favorites, Just Because
Favorites, Nature
Favorites, Photographic Art

 

statecapitols.tigerleaf.com
What's On Top, Statues of Eagles

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Mississippi — Dome, Cupola, Eagle

What's on top of the Mississippi capitol
 

 
 
from image
courtesy of
FLY2BIGBEAR

 
The Dome
The Mississippi state capitol building dome is unusually simple. Most stone domes have ports and decorations of some sort, but Mississippi's just has accented ribs. Since most of the facade of the capitol is also simple, sculpting and other decorations being largely confined to the portico and drum, the straight lines of the dome are not at all out of place. This isn't the only simple capitol dome; when Arkansas built their capitol, they borrowed Mississippi's dome design.

The Eagle
The gilded eagle on the Mississippi capitol dome is made of solid copper. He is 8 feet tall and has a 15-foot wingspan, and in this image he has a bird sitting on his wing!

Mississippi capitol eagle
from image courtesy of
Edward Crim photographer,
the State Capitols project

Mississippi cupola and eagle
Cupola
image courtesy of
Natalie Maynor

Lamps
The black-and-white globes above and behind the corners of the portico roof are unusual lamps. They are lit in the bottom image on Telling Them Apart, It's On the Dome.

Capitol lamp
from FLY2BIGBEAR
image above

Mississippi capitol side view
image courtesy of jimmywayne22

The Chamber Domes
Over the ends of the wings are domes that cover the stained glass ceilings of the Senate and House chambers. With the bowed and pillared walls, they make the chambers very dramatic.

 
More on Mississippi:
Telling Them Apart, It's On the Dome
Favorites, That's A Laugh

 

statecapitols.tigerleaf.com
What's On Top, Statues of Eagles

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New Hampshire — Dome, Cupola, Eagle

New Hampshire Capitol Dome
image courtesy of
Ben McLeod

Eagle, front view

Dome and Cupola
The New Hampshire state capitol building, including a dome topped with a gilded wooden eagle, was completed and the eagle put in place in 1818. During a major renovation of the building in 1909, the dome was rebuilt. I have found no mention of whether the new dome was a replica of the old one.

Capitol Cupola
image courtesy of
Ben McLeod


The New Hampshire capitol photos on this page are public through a Creative Commons Deed

eagle images
courtesy of
Ben McLeod

Eagle, side view
Eagle, rear view

Wooden Eagle
In 1957 a new eagle was made for the New Hampshire capitol dome since the original had deteriorated with weather and time. The new one is an element-proof metal replica which should stand up to weather better than the original. The gilded wooden eagle has been moved to the New Hampshire Historical Society.

Eagle Faces DC?
The New Hampshire capitol eagle faces east-northeast, which is not toward DC.

 
More on New Hampshire:
Telling Them Apart, Hidden Letters

 

statecapitols.tigerleaf.com
What's On Top, Statues of Eagles

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West Virginia — Dome, Cupola, Staff, Eagle

2005 Renovation
On October 14, 2005, a full year ahead of schedule, the new gilding on the capitol dome was unveiled. The dome now has gold-framed panels with gilt bas-relief as originally intended by the designer. Dark gray paint is the highlighting background for the gilded designs: an eagle, a pair of American flags flanking an aegis (a shield from Greek mythology), and other symbols.

This is the first time the West Virginia state capitol building dome has been finished exactly the way it was supposed to be.

The changing dome
The original design of the dome was based on the building in Paris that houses Napoleon's tomb, the Hotel National des Invalides. That dome is partially gilded, and its lantern is completely gilded. Like Les Invalides, the original capitol dome was finished with gold leaf and a gray (lead-colored) field. This did not exactly follow Cass Gilbert's original design, but I have not yet discovered what the difference was.

The Renovated West Virginia Capitol Dome

West Virginia capitol dome
late 2005 capitol dome
 
 
2005 images courtesy of
Linda Weekley
 

Eagle Faces DC?
The West Virginia capitol eagle faces toward the river, which is south-southwest and not toward DC.

cupola and eagle on West Virginia capitol dome
2005 lantern & eagle

dome detail
2005 dome detail

 
 
dome detail
2002 dome detail
image courtesy of
Mary Ann Sullivan
Bluffton University

West Virginia dome 1983
1983, painted dome
image courtesy of
Antje Schellhase

In the mid-1970s, a highly controversial decision was made to have the dome painted gold and blue instead of being regilded. The 1983 image at right shows that finish, which would explain the dull appearance.

West Virginia capitol dome 2002
2002 dome
image courtesy of
Mary Ann Sullivan
Bluffton University

In 1988 the dome was finally regilded, and the gold leaf was applied to the entire dome, again not using the design originally intended. The next time the gilding needed work, Cass Gilbert's design was considered seriously.

In February of 2005, the West Virginia Governor called on the residents of his state to vote on which pattern the new regilding should follow. They chose to return to the original design.

 
More on West Virginia:
Telling Them Apart, It's On the Dome
Favorites, That's A Laugh

 

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Page Last Updated: Jul-30-2013

For complete image credits and information sources, see Credits & Sources.

Site Author: Valerie Mockaitis     ©2005-2013 Valerie Mockaitis

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