Welcome To My Blog

Weekends are for wandering Wisconsin. That's what Rick, my guy, and I do. Occasionally we wander during the week, too. Sometimes we just drop in on other people's lives.

This blog is my way of sharing where we've been, neat places and things to do that we've found.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Wisconsin's Capitol

I finally toured our beautiful state capitol - something I had wanted to do for about 40 years. The Wisconsin Historical Society offered this tour as part of its Local History & Historic Preservation annual conference that was held here in Madison this past weekend. It was a terrific way to spend an hour and a half. The state's architect, Dan Stephans, was our group's guide. He was intimately familiar with the recent renovation of the capitol, a process that took place over 15 years. The cost of the entire project was $145 million and the Wisconsin State Capitol is now a designated National Historic Landmark.  
Some of the statuary on the outside of the building.
View down Wisconsin Ave - Lake Mendota in the background.

View down Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive - Lake Monona in the

Today's capitol is the third structure on the site. A territorial capitol was hastily built in 1837. Twenty years later, after Wisconsin had become a state, the capitol was rebuilt and a dome was added. Still not large enough, the capitol was expanded to four wings 15 years later. However, the capitol burned in 1904 and was rebuilt between 1906 and 1917. 
The detail within the capitol is amazing - even the door knobs with the state's seal are ornate.
A mosaic in the rotunda - before restoration...
... and after restoration.

Stephans told us that the German artist who restored the mosaics always had just the right piece of glass that was needed!

The dome of the capitol is three feet shorter than the U.S. Capitol. In Madison, no building within a mile of our capitol can be taller than the base of the columns surrounding and supporting its dome, according to a 1990 law. 

Underside of the dome - as seen from the floor of the rotunda.
"Wisconsin," with a badger on her head, stands atop the capitol's dome. When I first came to Madison the urban legend was that she was Mrs. Rennebohm pointing to the next location of a Rennebohm Drug Store (the forerunner of today's Walgreen's that are prolific in Madison).

Another famous statue that is on the Capitol Square is "Forward." The original bronze sculpture deteriorated after nearly 100 years of Wisconsin weather. After being restored, she was moved indoors to the headquarters building of the Wisconsin Historical Society. An outdoor replica was re-installed at the head of State Street.
"Forward" in her current home.
When I was working at the Society's Foundation,
we thought "Forward" needed to celebrate
the holiday season!

A building as beautiful as our state capitol should not be missed. Stop in the next time you happen to wander to Madison. Take one of the free capitol tours that are offered daily.

1 comment:

  1. It really is an amazingly beautiful building. A bit of trivia: A young Frank Lloyd Wright was in the crowd that saw the Capitol burn!