2 On The Road Blog

After 12 years of full-time rving, we've sold our truck and trailer but we're still traveling. Email us at wowpegasus@hotmail.com if you would like to contact us.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building

We toured the very, very fancy Pennsylvania State Capitol Building.  I'll be quoting some of the information in the informative brochure we picked up there.  "The Capitol was designed in the American renaissance Style by Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston (1866-1940), who envisioned the building as a "Palace of Art."  Built and furnished at a cost of $13 million, the Capitol features paintings, stained glass and furnishings by some of the best artisans of the day."  The building construction was completed in 1906.

"Many of the Rotunda's design features were borrowed from the Paris Opera House, including the Grand Staircase and three-tiered gallery."


"One of the Capitol's most noteworthy features is the colorful Moravian tiles that cover the first floor of the Rotunda and its adjacent corridors.  Designed and manufactured by Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930) of Doylestown, the floor is interspersed with close to 400 tile mosaics illustrating the stat's history, animals, industries, occupations and modes of transportation.  The tiles are thought to be some of the finest examples of Pennsylvania German folk art."

Click to enlarge these pictures to see some of the details of the building.
"The Capitol's centerpiece is a spectacular 272-foot, 52 million-pound dome inspired by Michelangelo's design for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.  Following its completion, the building was the tallest structure between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for 80 years."

A quote from William Penn is inscribed using tiny tiles around the Rotunda.  There was a press conference just starting at the bottom of the stairs so the tour guide took us up to the third floor to start our tour.

"The Rotunda is illuminated by 48 portholes at the top of the dome and by nearly 4,000 lights."

Looking down at the Grand Staircase.

"Eight large murals by Philadelphia artist Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911) highlight the Rotunda as a tribute to Pennsylvania and its history.  Four of the canvases are circular and 14 feet in circumference, and four are crescent-shaped and measure 38 feet by 22 feet."

"The richly appointed Senate Chamber, located on the second floor of the Capitol's north side, is where Pennsylvania's 50 state Senators meet to debate and vote on legislation and resolutions.  Each member is assigned a desk.  Democrat lawmakers sit on the left side of the Chamber (facing the rostrum), and Republicans sit on the right - a parliamentary grouping adopted from the early French National Assembly." 

"The Senators' desks, constructed of mahogany and imported from Belize, date back to the Capitol's 1906 opening.  The green marble that lines the Chamber's walls is rare Connemara, imported from Ireland.  The four massive, gold-finished iron and glass floor standards weigh two tons each."
"The 24 stained glass windows in the Senate and House Chambers (10 in the Senate, 14 in the House) were created by Philadelphia native William B. Van Ingen, who had been a student of the famous glass artist Louis C. Tiffany.  The works are framed in 24-karat gold leaf embellishments.  Each features a theme, such as Architecture, Commerce, Education, History, Justice, Liberty and Peace.  The windows were removed in the late 1980s and completely releaded and reglazed."

Our tour guide added much more information that is given in the brochure.

Back out in the Rotunda, we viewed another of the paintings below the dome.

Next stop was the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Room.

This dome is not visible from the outside because it is covered.

The glass light covers are cut so that the light comes through looking like a big X.

The chandeliers in this room had figures in them.

"The Harrisburg Chamber of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is both a seat of justice and an artistic treasure.  It contains a collection of 16 paintings by Violet Oakley.  The above painting is entitled "Divine Law - The Keynote," and includes an intricate combination of letters and images spelling out the words Love, Law and Wisdom."

The stairs between the floors had lovely carved railings.

Another one of the paintings in the Rotunda.

"The House Chamber features magnificent art, including remarkable stained glass windows, splendid murals and original wooden desks.  Five murals by Edwin Austin Abbey decorate the walls, including the largest in the state Capitol, "The Apotheosis," located behind the Speaker's podium.  Spanning 35 feet square, the painting depicts explorers, intellectuals and leaders from the state's past"
"Six crystal chandeliers light the House.  The fixtures range from two tons to over four tons each, and require over 1,000 light bulbs."

  "While the Senate still uses a voice-vote system, with members calling out "aye" or "nay," the House votes electronically, making it easier to tally the response of 203 members."

Back out in the Rotunda for another look at the Grand Staircase before we leave the building.

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