Friday, July 11, 2014

Michigan's State Capitol in Lansing

It seems strange to me that over the years, when we have made many trips to Michigan because it is my parent's home state, that we have never visited the state capitol.  It is about 70 miles from where we are now parked, but despite the distance we had to travel it was a worth the trip.
When it was dedicated in 1879 the building was the third capitol of the state.  Detroit was selected as the capitol city when Michigan was admitted to the union in 1837,  but the city borders Canada and it was decided that the Detroit was an unsafe place for a state capitol (in the mid 1800s the war of 1812 was a bit too fresh in the memories of many).  The third capitol of Michigan was designed to resemble the U.S. Capitol.  The statue in front of is that of Austin Blair, the war governor during the Civil War.  We had a small window of time to check out the gardens of the capitol before our guided tour started so we went back outside to look at the Victorian Gardens on the capitol grounds.
In 1992, after three years of restoration, the Michigan Capitol was recognized as one of the best examples of Victorian art and architecture.  Consequently the gardens on Capitol Square were also created to reflect that era.  Common to the practice of that time, low-growing flower varieties are used to create patterned garden beds (called carpet bedding).  The rainbow of colors flows in a pattern of bright oranges and reds at the Capitol's front entrance to the cooler color spectrum of blues and lavenders at the end of the building.
Our first stop on the tour of the Capitol was the Governor's office and parlor, one of the more beautiful rooms in the Capitol.  In the parlor a very beautifully carved cupboard caught my eye, pictured above.  Many of the original furnishings of the room are a tribute to Michigan's furniture-making heritage. In fact, one of my Mother's ancestors had a furniture manufacturing company in Saginaw, Michigan.
Pictured above is the House of Representatives.  Walls and ceilings of the capitol are beautifully decorated with elaborately hand-painted designs, as well as the rotunda and dome.  Our guide informed us that every room has a different motif, each one done by a different artist.  The cost of the building when it was constructed was $1,500,000- I would venture to say that it is more costly today and much of its elaborate art work is irreplaceable.  Before closing I want to mention one other fascinating feature of the Capitol.  The floor of the rotunda consists of glass and cast iron lattice work and its design creates an optical illusion.  Seen from several stories up it appears that the center of the floor sinks to form a bowl.

No comments:

Post a Comment