Monday, August 30, 2010

Capitol Building of North Dakota

Before touring the capitol we stopped at Zion Lutheran Church. It was a hot afternoon and the garden of this church, located behind its fellowship hall, looked very inviting. In the center is a small fountain.
The capitol building surprised me. When we parked near it I kept looking for a domed building, which is what most capitol buildings have. This capitol building looks like any other skyscraper, and has 19 stories.
 Marlan, our tour guide for the capitol, claimed that the domed capitols are only about 40% useful, the North Dakota capitol makes use of at least 80% of its building. The original capitol, a brick domed building, burned in 1830. The present capitol building was built from 1932-34 under severe budget constraints, so it had to be efficient in both space and operation. The inside of this building, however, is quite elegant. The first floor Memorial Hall has chandeliers are 12 feet long and were designed to represent a head of wheat. The seal of North Dakota has a backdrop of rare Belgium black marble.
There are also other rich materials in the building like Indiana limestone and Wisconsin black granite that covers the facade of the building, and Minnesota granite makes up the front staircase. Many woods are represented in the Legislative Hall and in the House of Representatives. There is curly maple, East Indian rosewood, a rare Californian walnut, chestnut and a variety of oaks. It is quite a beautiful building, I am not sure how they can claim that they had limited financial resources when they built it! Our guide passed on to us other interesting information regarding North Dakota. In recent years it has come into oil and, according to him, is now the fourth largest producer of oil. Oil has helped the state keep a balanced budget. Something else which I learned is that the legislators come into the capitol to work for eighty days every other year. And to think that I originally thought that the tour of this capitol building would boring and uninformative! Turned out to be quite the contrary.

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