Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lincoln, Nebraska

The capitol of Nebraska, in Lincoln,  was built from 1922 to 1932.  The previous capitol building was crumbling and it was necessary to replace it.  The architect of the current building designed it with the idea in mind of it representing a "tower on the plains",  He wanted a broad low base to reflect the expanse of the prairie.  He also wanted a tall tower rising as a landmark to be viewed from miles away.  The 19 foot tall 91/2 ton bronze "Sower" was placed above the dome to represent agriculture.  Lincoln is located about 50 miles west of Omaha.  We decided we could easily make it a day trip while we are staying in Council Bluffs.  Several Nebraskans had encouraged us to visit the capitol, primarily because of the artwork in the building.  Also, John has frequently mentioned to me that one of his art professors, Reinhold Marxhausen, has a couple of his murals displayed at the capitol.  Marxhausen's murals were two of a total of six Venetian glass mosaics commissioned to be placed in the foyer of the capitol to celebrate the state's 1967 centennial.  Picture below is "The Building of the Capitol" by Reinhold Marxhausen.   At the time he did that one, as well as "The Spirit of Nebraska",  he was professor at Concordia College in Seward, Nebraska
When we visited the capitol on Wednesday it was the last day the legislature was to be in session before the summer recess.  Governor Dave Heineman was to address the senate- his speech was timed nicely for us, as it was to happen just after we had concluded our guided tour of the capitol.

 It seemed a bit unusual to us, but a committee of 5 senators were called out of the session to escort the governor from his office to the senate floor.  And, after all that pomp and circumstance, he gave a brief message and then was escorted out again by the same senators.  In his speech he commented that unemployment in the state was the second best out of all 50 states and that the Nebraska legislature was able to pass a balanced budget without a tax increase.  In case you are not aware of it, Nebraska has had a unicameral legislature since 1937.  There are 49 state senators and no house of representatives.  The chamber for the house now is used only for committee meetings or other special gatherings.  Its beautifully hand carved wooden door is pictured below. It represents the tree of life which has a thunderbird on it, and its brass handles are two ears of corn.   All three branches of the government are housed in the capitol.

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