Friday, March 11, 2011

State Capitol Buildings

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 10:41am
As a government junkie, these “headquarters” are of interest to me. Of course, the U.S. Capitol is the best of all (Anna will always remember when I took her for a tour through the secret passageways that employees use, however that was before 9/11, so I'll never be able to do that again), but here is my review of the next lower level versions. I added another to my list a few days ago, which inspired me to document my history with 17 state capitols (more than one-third of them).

I've actually been inside seven different state capitol buildings:

1. West Virginia (and actually had a desk upstairs in an office when I worked for the House Government Organization Committee)
2. Oklahoma (during the John Anderson 1980 presidential campaign—they had a working oil pump on their capitol grounds)
3. Alabama (during the Anderson campaign)
4. Illinois (again, as part of the Anderson campaign. The Old Illinois Capitol is downtown Springfield is more interesting than their current capitol)
5. Ohio (as a tourist where they emphasize the visits Lincoln made there)
6. Pennsylvania (toured it this past summer—it is the most opulent I've seen).
7. Georgia (as part of a school trip to Atlanta prior to the '96 Olympics)

In addition, I have “eyeballed” ten others from the car while in the vicinity.

1. Indiana (during my trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
2. Utah (Salt Lake City was part of the Western trip Anna and I took in 2007)
3. Tennessee (during another school trip in the '90s)
4. Massachusetts (while attending the Presidential Intern function at Harvard)
5. New York (during the 2004 New England trip with Anna)
6. North Carolina (in 1985 with my friend Steve Goff)
7. Virginia (both Richmond and Williamsburg)
8. Annapolis (while visiting the Naval Academy)
9. Delaware (on the way to Dover Speedway)
10. South Carolina (this week while on the way to the WVU bowl game)

This was my first visit to Columbia, as we stopped there Sunday night on our way to Florida. The University of South Carolina is huge (~45,000 students) and dominates much of downtown (but I like Woodburn Circle better than their horseshoe area). It was quite a juxtaposition to see palmetto trees with snow covering the ground beneath them. Although South Carolina finally relented and removed the Confederate flag from the top of their Capitol dome, it still occupies a prime space at the front of their Capitol building (which I consider disgraceful, as do the ghosts of thousands Grand Army of the Republic members—the GAR was the first real veterans organization, but unfortunately died away as those Civil War veterans died).

All told, I wouldn't trade any of them for the West Virginia capitol building in Charleston. From the outside, it is quite impressive. I'm glad the gilding of our dome was paid with donations, rather than from taxes. The inside is nice, but not at the level of Pennsylvania. However, the riches that went into the luxurious appointments within the capitol at Harrisburg make it too “over the top” for my tastes—it borders on embarrassing.

So the bottom line is that West Virginia is the best (not that I am biased or anything).

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