September 20, 2013 – Drive from Lee’s Summit to Jefferson City, MO – Missouri State Capitol

The trip from Lee’s Summit to Jefferson City was relatively short but took longer than anticipated as there were several speed restrictions going through several enroute local communities.  We did pass three oversized Legos,

old silos and barns

 

the appearance of some of the first fall colors

and multi-colored fields.

Once settled in Binder State Park Campground, we left for downtown Jefferson City and  Missouri’s State Capitol Building.

 

The building measures five stories high, 437 feet long, 300 feet wide in the center and 200 feet wide in the wings.  The dome is 238 feet high and the height of the wings is 88 feet.  It includes 500,000 square feet of floor space.


South Facade

North Facade

The Capitol’s dome, rises 238 feet above the ground level and is topped by a bronze statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture and holds a sheaf of grain in her left hand.

Were you to climb the steps toward the south entrance; a dominating 13 foot statue of Thomas Jefferson greets visitors. Above him is a decorative pediment.

To the left he is flanked by a female figure crowned with cattails resting on a cornucopia of fruit while holding a corn stalk.  The inscription below the figure reads, “Territory Organized 1812”.

To the right of Jefferson, is a male figure representing the Mississippi River and is often called the “Father of the Waters”.  He holds a rudder of commerce and the anchor of a steamboat in his left hand.  The caduceus in his right hand was the magic wand or Hermes, the god of travelers and commerce.  The inscription below his figure reads, “Admitted Into Union 1821”.

The Missouri State Capitol is notable for its architectural features, including its eight 48-foot (15 m) columns on the south portico and six 40-foot columns on the north side; its 30-foot wide grand stairway and its bronze front doors, each 13 by 18 feet; at the time, the largest cast since the Roman era.

Entering the building you climb a long marble staircase leading to the third floor, flanked by large columns on either side with a skylight above of the state’s seal near the ceiling to your rear.

In the center is written under the capitol dome, “Missouri Capitol Built of Missouri Stone”; as the legislature required it when the funding for the capitol building was authorized

Returning by elevator to the first floor, the state’s seal is again prominent in the center of the rotunda.

Throughout the rotunda and other areas of the building there are scores of paintings, seemingly on every available wall space, all related to the history, social fabric, natural resources key to the state or events in which Missourians have been involved.

Along four of the third floor corridors are a series of extremely interesting paintings.  Not only are the faces, where appropriate, the representations of real Missourians but when you walk from one side to these paintings to the other, the perspectives change dramatically such that the elements of the photos appear to “move”.

Example 1

Viewed from the Center

When viewed from the Left Side (Note how the bridge extends all the way to the right side of the painting)

When viewed from the Right Side (Note how the bridge now seems to end toward the middle of the painting and the steamship under the bridge (hard to see) appears to have moved to the left)

Example 2

When viewed from the Left Side (Not the road in the foreground extends to the far right and the road coming in from the right is hardly visible)

When viewed from the Right Side (Note the different perspectives of the two roads)

On the second floor, there are also 36 busts of famous Missourians or people who played an important role in the history of the Territory or State.  Some of these include:

Sacajawea

Emmett Kelly

George Washington Carver

Harry S. Truman

Josephine Baker

General Omar Bradley

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka: Mark Twain)

As with other state capitol buildings we’ve visited, the House and Senate chambers are extremely impressive, albeit decorated and maintained at taxpayer expense. 

The Missouri House has 163 members.  Access to the chamber was no problem, particularly with a tour guide who provided us an excellent commentary.

It is interesting to note that the columns in the House and Senate Chambers are from New Hampshire and are the only “stones” used in the building which were not sandstone from Missouri.

 

The Senate is composed of 34 members.   Unlike the House, apparently the Missouri State Senate has a policy of not wanting tourists to see into their chamber when they are not in session, apparently forgetting that  State House is the “people’s house not their private domain.  However, by testing some of the doors, I discovered their security was a bit lacking and so were able to have a look!

The walls of the House Lounge, which was originally the office space for State legislators, are covered with some dramatic murals depicting the social history or the State as well as its folklore.

Statuary is a prominent feature of the Capitol grounds.

Law Enforcement Memorial

Fountain of the Centaurs

Singing of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty

Small replica of the Statue of Liberty

Veterans Memorial

Lewis and Clark Monument

and even the Ten Commandments, which is highly unusual and generally deemed unconstitutional on public property … letting you know you’re in a Bible Belt state.

 Just two blocks away is the Governor’s Mansion, which we were unable to tour today.

However, we were able to find our way into St. Peter Catholic Church across the street from the State Capitol, although the main doors were locked (which was understandable as the church is associated with a school which was in session).

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