Pierre State Capital...
Sep 17, 2014
|Today Larry & I had a private tour of the South Dakota State Capitol here in Pierre. I called a day ahead of time to inquire about the tour schedule & was told that they would 'find' a volunteer to give us a private tour at 1:30 PM the following day. I was a bit taken back but pleasantly surprised. We agreed to meet at the appointed time & sure enough, Karen was there waiting for us when we arrived. Karen spent two solid hours with us & she was so knowledgeable & pleasant! It was great. Turned out she lived in Las Vegas for several years so we hit it off right away, lol :)
Larry & I make it a point to visit as many state capital buildings as possible. We find them all very different & yet also very much alike. Some are just more opulent than others. Is that really a word??? Yep, it is. Anyway, if you enjoy state capital buildings, or if you've never seen one in your life, we hope you enjoy taking this little tour with us.....
The Pierre, SD state capital building features a copper dome, Corinthian columns, rusticated walls of granite and Bedford limestone, and a decorative interior. The building has a central rotunda flanked by the legislative wings, making it somewhat similar to the nation’s capitol. The four-story Neoclassical building has some English and Italian Renaissance features. Its granite foundation rests on boulders collected from the surrounding prairie. Native granite is also the material used for the steps and some of the window trimming. The first level of the capitol uses Marquette Raindrop sandstone for its facing while the other stories are of Bedford limestone.
The interior is just as exquisite as the exterior. Italian workers laid the terrazzo tile floors. The capitol is known for its attractive murals and paintings. Under the dome in the rotunda, four large round paintings feature Greek goddesses that symbolize the four major South Dakota themes: agriculture, livestock, mining, and family. Under each of these paintings is a flag display. Four contemporary sculptures, two by Harry Daniel Webster and two by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, adorn the rotunda and complement the original artwork of the interior. They symbolize Wisdom, Vision, Courage, and Integrity. The capitol also contains paintings by Oscar Howe, the Artist Laureate of the State.
On June 25, 1908 when the cornerstone for the South Dakota State Capitol was laid, Governor Coe Crawford said in his address: "The new capitol will do more than comfortably accommodate the officers who are to labor within its walls for the people whom they will serve. It will stand throughout the coming years as an expression of beauty and art, and as the people come and go and linger within its walls, they will see in it an expression of the soul of the state."
The floor in the capitol building is made of terrazzo tile. The floor is said to have been laid by 66 Italian artists. From the first floor, a marble staircase leads upstairs. In front of the staircase, display cases house the First Lady Gown Collection. Miniature replicas have been made of the gown worn by each first lady to the state inaugural ball. These replicas are worn by dolls in the display case.
On the second floor, the marble staircase leads into a rotunda. The dome of the rotunda is 96 feet high. The bottom ring is designed to resemble a string of ribbons joined together, which is meant to symbolize the eternal nature of government. The interior of the dome is decorated with sixteen images of the Tree of Life. The dome also displays acanthus leaves to represent wisdom and a pasque flower, which is the state flower.
The third floor houses the state's House of Representatives and the state's Senate. The galleries for both, from which the public can observe the legislative process, are located on the fourth floor.
In anticipation of South Dakota's state centennial during 1989, the building was renovated extensively and restored during the administrations of Governors Richard F. Kneip, Harvey L. Wollman, Bill Janklow, and George S. Mickelson. The renovation required 22 years and restored much of the building and its decoration, including the tile floor, to its original appearance. The tiled floor was also repaired; each of the tile workers who did the repairs is said to have been given a heart-shaped stone with which to mark the new floor, as the original workers had.
The attractively landscaped capitol grounds are the site of numerous memorials dedicated to veterans of war, law enforcement, and firefighters. Four memorials are on the grounds of the capitol building. The Fighting Stallions Memorial is a sculpture built to honor the eight South Dakota residents, including Governor George S. Mickelson, who died in an airplane crash on April 19, 1993. Beautiful!
Well, that's it for now. Tomorrow we visit the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center. See you there!