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State Capitols
A Never-ending Hobby . . .

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

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Kansas — Drums, Dome, Cupola, Statue

Drum tower and dome
image courtesy of
A. Pawlak of Kansas

The Drums
The Kansas state capitol building has an unusually designed drum tower. The smaller, upper drum section is not so different from the ones on many other capitols, but the two lower drum sections are. They are essentially the same height while normally one main drum is taller than any others in a tower. They also are octagonal with differently shaped windows. Only 5 other capitols have octagonal drums (Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Wyoming), and no other capitol has windows that differ so much between two large drum sections.

Ad Astra, side view
image courtesy of
Nancy Baym
through
Creative Commons

The Statue
Kansas finally completed their capitol with a statue for the dome in 2002. Over a hundred years earlier, there was a bronze statue of Ceres being ordered for this dignified perch, but there were several controversies surrounding the choice. Ceres was abandoned, and when serious negotiations resumed in 1984, a statue of a god or a goddess was eliminated from the possibilities.


The striking pose of a Kansa Indian won the 1984 competition. It was inspired by the kids of Kansas. The selection committee chose it for many reasons, including the state's American Indian heritage and the message the statue carries of the importance of aspiration and inspiration. That message comes from its name, "Ad Astra" taken from the state motto, "Ad Astra Per Aspera," or "To the Stars Through Difficulties."

 

Cupola and statue
image courtesy of
ChrisM70

The Dome and Cupola
The dome and the entire cupola are clad in copper. When it is new or newly restored, a copper dome is copper-colored like a penny. Then, as it develops its patina, it darkens until it is essentially black, slowly turns green, and the green lightens. The Ad Astra statue looks nice in these images, but the dome and cupola are in their mottled green/black stage.

Ad Astra, front view
image courtesy of
A. Pawlak of Kansas


To the Stars Through Difficulties
The motto might seem strange, unless you know some of the history of Kansas. The state proved a very difficult land to settle and cultivate, but the pioneers prevailed. Then the war between the states took its toll when much of the fighting took place in Kansas and the state had the nickname, "Bloody Kansas." All this hardship, and Kansas wasn't even a state yet. It seems the motto fits.

 
More on Kansas:
Telling Them Apart, It's In the Drum
Favorites, Photographic Art
Favorites, Statues

 
 

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

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Nebraska — Drums, Dome, Statue

Top section of Nebraska capitol
image courtesy of
Travelin' Librarian
through
Creative Commons
 

The Thunderbird
The mosaic thunderbird design is familiar to many as Native American artwork.

Tunderbird frieze
image courtesy of
Travelin' Librarian
through
Creative Commons

 

Close-up of dome
image courtesy of
Travelin' Librarian
through
Creative Commons

Native American Symbolism
The team that originally designed the Nebraska state capitol building in Lincoln included Hartley Burr Alexander as a "thematic consultant." He wanted the Native American tribes who were in Nebraska before the pioneers to be represented and, in effect, memorialized in this structure with state-wide importance. For this reason, American Indian symbolism is a main force in the ornamentation of the building, inside and out.

The Drums
The tall, lower drum is octagonal with each side aligning with a mosaic style frieze of a thunderbird on the upper drum section. Thunderbirds are an American Indian symbol for rain and life.

The Sower statue
image courtesy of
Overduebook

The Dome
The golden dome is symbolic of the sun. Its especially round and smooth surface lends itself to that association. The sun is a symbol of the energy and light needed for life.

The Statue
On top of the dome is a pioneer in the act of sowing his crops. The 19-foot tall sculpture of "The Sower" faces northwest, the direction in which most of Nebraska lies.

Together, the elements of the top of the Nebraska capitol symbolize life and agriculture. The thunderbirds for rain and life, the dome for the sun's energy and light, and The Sower for agriculture.

 
More on Nebraska:
Telling Them Apart, The Towers
Favorites, Footprints
Favorites, Nature

 
 

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

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Oklahoma — Dome, Cupola, Statue (completed in 2002)

Oklahoma capitol dome
image courtesy of
Jeffrey Alan Van Grevenhof

The Dome
When the Oklahoma state capitol building was first occupied in 1917, it had been completed without an exterior dome. Since the architectural plans included one, the structures necessary to support a dome were there.

The new dome shown here was under construction from April 2001 to November 2002. The dedication took place on November 16, 2002, over 85 years after the rest of the building was first completed.

1914 architect's dome

The Plan
The image of the dome at left is from the antique postcard of the Oklahoma capitol shown below. The card is surprising because it is dated July, 1914 but shows the dome that was not added until 2001-2002. It is actually a drawing by the architects of the capitol, Layton & Smith.

The two domes are so alike, it is obvious the new dome was finally built according to the original plan. Nothing looks different, and the only things missing are the four sculptures around the base, but the platforms for them are there.

1914 architect's drawing
image from the state capitol postcard collection of
Valerie Mockaitis

The sculptor named him "The Guardian". His lance pierces his legging and is planted in the ground to symbolize he will never be moved from his duty to guard the land and people of Oklahoma. He faces east with his face turned south, looking out over the main entrance to the capitol.

The photo at far left shows the statue in 2007, five years after it was placed on the dome. The photo at near left was taken while The Guardian was on display at ground level before being raised.

The Guardian statue
image courtesy of
raveller
through
Creative Commons

The Statue
This bronze statue of an American Indian warrior was raised to the top of the new Oklahoma capitol dome on June 7, 2002. The dedication ceremony included music and dance performed by many Native Americans and a traditional Indian blessing.

The Guardian on the ground
image courtesy of
Wingspread
Recording Ltd. Co.

Photo by
Russell Saunkeah

 
More on Oklahoma:
Telling Them Apart, It's On the Dome
Favorites, Statues

 

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

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Oregon — Drum, Observation Deck, Statue

Drum and statue on Oregon capitol
image courtesy of gmeador
 

Drum
While the general shape of the Oregon state capitol building resembles our many domed and columned capitols, the lack of an external dome on the drum is unique. The ribbed drum is flat on top. With only the statue in the center of the flat top, the observation deck there has an exceptional view of the Salem area. It also has an unusually close-up view of the statue.

Oregon Pioneer face with beard
image courtesy of Cachew
through
Creative Commons

The detail found in many of the state capitol dome statues is surprising. From the ground where most view this "Brawny Woodsman," I could not see any sign of the beard he wears.

 
Detail of drum marble and architecture

 
 
image courtesy
of Cacophany
through
Creative Commons

 
 
Marble and Art Deco
The heavy grain of the marble that covers the exterior of the Oregon capitol can be seen in this detail image of the drum.

Geometric shapes and angles are part of the Art Deco style of the building. Here the style is evident in the rectangular ribs that cover the round drum where most capitols would have round columns.

Statue
The official name of the statue is the "Oregon Pioneer." He is a representation of the courage and spirit of the early settlers of the state.

The 23-foot tall statue is cast in bronze and gilded. The capitol itself is not a tall building, but the Pioneer with his gleaming gold leaf finish is easy to spot from many locations in the capital city.

Many capitol statues have multiple names with little similarity. This one has two names also, but the two names are quite similar. The Oregon Pioneer's common name is the "Golden Pioneer."

Golden Pioneer west side

Over his left shoulder is a tarp to be used to build a shelter, according to the artist.

image courtesy of
JeffryB
through
Creative Commons

 
Golden Pioneer front/north side

He stands facing north like the capitol building, with his head turned westward.

image courtesy of
Cacophany
through
Creative Commons

 
Golden Pioneer east side

The Pioneer holds a splitting axe in his right hand.

image courtesy of
WintrHawk

 
More on Oregon:
Telling Them Apart, Surprisingly Different Designs
Favorites, Just Because
Favorites, Photographic Art

 
 

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

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Rhode Island — Dome, Side Cupolas, Central Cupola, Statue

State House dome
image courtesy of
Roger Williams
 

Dome
The Rhode Island state capitol building was the first building in the United States to be constructed with an all-marble dome. Like the majority of the building, it is made of white, Georgia marble. It is a large, self-supporting dome, 50 feet in diameter at its widest point, and there are only three larger in the world. These three domes, from largest to smallest, are on St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Minnesota State Capitol, and the Taj Mahal in India.


 
Independent Man close-up

 
 
image courtesy of
Trent Maynard

 
 
More on
Independent Man

A quote from the photographer of the dome and skylight images above, a present-day Roger Williams:

"The original idea was to put a statue of Roger Williams on the top of the state house, but nobody can agree on exactly what he looked like. Therefore, an abstraction of the concept of the founding of Rhode Island was settled on, with the Independent Man representing Rhode Island's notoriously contrarian political and independence minded spirit." The Rhode Islander

Webmaster's Comment
They certainly eliminated the pantaloons, jacket and hat problem, didn't they?

 

State House skylight
image courtesy of
Roger Williams

Skylights
Domes similar to those on both sides of this building can be found on several capitols. Below them in this capitol are skylights in the House and Senate Chambers. Another skylight is in the State Library.


Statue and cupola
image courtesy of
Trent Maynard
 

Statue
The Independent Man on the capitol is gilded bronze and has been on the dome since 1899, except for when he was taken down for repair and regilding from August 9, 1975 to July 20, 1976. He wears a bear skin loincloth, holds a spear and has an anchor, the state symbol, at his side.

The Rhode Island Historical Society of 1895 wanted a statue of Roger Williams, founder of the State of Rhode Island and the City of Providence, on the capitol dome. A later decision was made to leave the choice of subject for the dome statue up to the architects.

One account shows the chief architect vetoed Roger Williams as the statue's subject because the sight from the street would be all pantaloons, jacket and hat, and they instead chose a figure depicting freedom and sovereignty. The statue's designer called him "Hope," which is the state motto, but the name that stuck some think was a reference to Roger Williams, "Independent Man."

 
More on Rhode Island:
Telling Them Apart, Unique Architectural Components
Favorites, Intriguing Interiors
Favorites, Just Because
Favorites, Night Shots
Favorites, Statues

 

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statecapitols.tigerleaf.com


 
Page Last Updated: Sep-29-2013

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

Site Author: Valerie Mockaitis     ©2005-2013 Valerie Mockaitis

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