We awoke to below freezing temperatures … which to our friends back home may not generate any sympathy.
However, the Pearl River, less than twenty yards from our front door, provided some breathtaking scenery as well as an early morning visitor.
Our first stop was Mississippi’s ”new”state capitol building.
This Beaux-Arts structure, the third state capitol building in Jackson, sits on the site of the former state penitentiary and was completed in 1903. Built for a cost at a cost of $1.1 million (which was paid for by the Illinois Central Railroad in the form of back taxes the owed to the state)… by comparison the 1979-1983 renovations cost taxpayers $19 million, it houses the legislative
and executive branches of government;
the Supreme Court having moved to the Gartin Building across the street.
Approaching the Capitol you pass one of the 53 replicas of the Liberty Bell (one was given to every state) and a statue erected in memory of the ladies, mothers, sisters, wives and daughters of the Confederate soldiers.
Atop the 180-foot dome, is a gold eagle measuring 8-foot in height and with a 15-foot wingspan looks out to the south, the location of the city of Jackson at the time of the building’s construction. The eagle is made of solid copper and gilded with gold leaf.
The walls of the rotunda are Italian white marble with a base of New York jet-black marble. Eight large columns are art marble known as scagliola.
The dome interior
contains 750 lights which illuminate the blindfolded female figure representing “blind justice”
and four scenes; two Indians, a Spanish explorer and a Confederate general.
The Mississippi Coat of Arms is atop of each arch.
The Capitol’s grand staircase ascends from the second floor (originally the primary floor) to the fourth floor. The architect used stepped consoles to create a wavy balustrade and stained glass windows adorn the landings.
Three blocks south we toured the Governor’s Executive Mansion.
First occupied in 1842, the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion is the second oldest continuously occupied governor’s residence in the United States. Completed in January 1842, Governor Tilghman Tucker and his family moved into the Mansion, which had been constructed for a cost of approximately $50,000.00. Both the Old Capitol (our next stop) and the Governor’s Mansion were designed by architect William Nichols (1780-1853), a native of Bath, England. William Nichols designed the Mansion in the period’s most popular architectural style: Greek Revival. Architectural historians consider the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion to be one of the finest surviving examples of the Greek Revival style in the United States.
Unfortunately, after taking a picture of the octagonal entrance foyer
I was advised that photography in the mansion was forbidden … which was a shame as some of the rooms open to the public are elegant and each tastefully and creatively decorated for Christmas in a different motif symbolic of Mississippi.
We then walked several blocks to the Old Capitol (actually the second of the three capitol buildings). Constructed in 1839, and serving as Mississippi’s state house until 1903, it is the oldest building in Jackson.
Several times after the seat of government moved to the current Capitol, the building lay abandoned and at the mercy of the elements (most recently by Hurricane Katrina) before finally being restored for the most recent time in 2009 when it reopened as a museum focusing on the history of the building, with exhibits on government in action, the importance of historic preservation and the state’s different capitals (Natchez and Washington).
To the immediate south of the Old Capitol is a memorial to the Confederate war casualties.
The birthday of Jefferson Davis, June 3, 1891, was chosen as the date for the official dedication the Monument
To the north of the Old Capitol, soldiers of all wars are honored at the War Memorial Building where the faces of the soldiers carved into the building are all the same, which represents the kinship of all Mississippians who gave their lives in defense of their country. The building’s unique cast aluminum doors and panels depict scenes from the Battle of Ackia in 1736, through the Vietnam War.
Leaving the core city, we passed City Hall with its iconic statue of Andrew Jackson
As well as a number of cleverly disguised traffic signal boxes.