Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Madison, Wisconsin

John and I have never been in Madison before so we decided to make that our next destination before leaving Wisconsin. Also, our nephew Adam's wife Kjerstin, recently moved there to begin graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin and we wanted to visit with her. Madison turned out to be a very pleasant surprise; we had a very enjoyable day in the capitol city yesterday, despite the cool wet weather. Within or just outside of the city limits are four lakes. The city center, where we spent our time yesterday, is on an isthmus between two of those lakes; Lake Mendota and Monona. The eight-block-wide isthmus is dominated by the Monona Community and Convention Center and the state Capitol. The convention center is where we took our first guided tour, after we first had lunch at its rooftop garden cafe. From this garden we had a great view of the lake, city, and state capitol building. Below is a picture of the entrance to the center.
 Frank Loyd Wright began his plans for the convention center in 1930. He did not complete the design until a few week before his death in 1959. Wright considered the state Capitol in his design. He wanted the color, forms, and symmetry to echo that of the capitol which had been built from 1906-1917.  After 60 years of debate the construction of the center began in 1994 and the building opened its doors in 1997.  Below is a picture of the Grand Terrace which opens to a majestic and expansive view of Lake Monona.
The interior was designed by Wright's apprentice, Tony Puttam. It has all of Wright's architectural ideas and hallmarks which can be seen in the carpeting and custom designed furniture. According to our guide, Wright's design for indirect lighting came from the form of the hollyhock flower. The state Capitol is just down the street from the convention center. We were fortunate to also get a guided tour of that building.
The capital dome is topped by a gilded bronze statue, "Wisconsin". She has a badger on her head. The badger theme is continued within the capitol. Outside of the governor's office is a statue of the famous Wisconsin animal. People walking past him rub his nose for good luck.
The Wisconsin state capitol was built in 1917 at a cost of $7.25 million. The interior features forty-three varieties of stone from around the world. Its dome is the only capitol dome to be made from granite. The interior also features decorative murals, glass mosaics, hand carved furniture and massive columns of marble. It has to be one of the prettiest state capitols which we have ever toured. We ended our afternoon walking around State Street Mall, a tree-lined shopping district with small import shops and craft studios.

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