Looking for a parking garage near the Texas State Capitol, yours truly instructed his wife, who was driving, our Jeep, to take a right only to find we were headed down a one-way street in the wrong direction. A quick U-turn and 15 minutes later we finally located the garage.
Our first stop was the Capitol Visitor’s Center, the former Texas Land Grand Office.
However, our main objective was Austin’s magnificent State Capitol Building.
With more than 360,000 square feet of interior floor space it is the largest state capitol and towering 310 feet it is some seven feet taller than the US Capitol and the sixth tallest state capitol. Standing atop the dome is the 14.6 foot high statue of the Goddess of Liberty holding an eight foot Texas star.
The exterior walls are made of Sunset Red Texas Granite while the foundation and interior walls are Texas limestone. The wainscoting and other woodwork are primarily oak and pine; although some cherry, walnut, mahogany and cedar were also used. The dome is galvanized cast and wrought iron and the roof covering 85,000 sq. ft. of copper.
Beginning with the interior of the dome over the rotunda, throughout the building the five-pointed Texas star is repetitively used, often with the letters :”T”, “E”, “X”,”A” “S” inserted between the points of the star.
Entering the foyer from the south entrance
you pass a large painting of David (Davy) Crockett
and then between marble statues of Sam Houston (left)
The rotunda floor contains the seal of the state of Texas surrounded by the six flags which have flown over the state (reading clockwise from the top right, Spain, France, the United States, Confederate States of America and the Republic of Texas)
Carved door frames
have bronze hinges inscribed with the words, “Texas Capitol”
and the hinges and other hardware are incised with geometric and stylized floral motifs.
The door knobs and door hinges throughout the building. Each door knob prominently displays the Texas star.
The stairways each possessed their own hand-crafted elegance.
Then there the main legislative and judicial chambers.
GOVERNOR’S PUBLIC RECEPTION ROOM
ORIGINAL SUPREME COURT CHAMBER
ORIGINAL COURT OF APPEALS CHAMBER
ORIGINAL STATE TREASURER”S OFFICE
The Capitol grounds host the greatest number of monuments of any of the state capital we’ve visited to date.
Our next stop was the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum located on the University of Texas campus. The ten –story building is home to 45 million pages of historical documents, 650,000 photographs, 1 million feet of motion picture film and 15,000 hours of recordings from the public career of Johnson and his close associates, including over 600 hours of presidential telephone conversations (including a call to Rose Kennedy just hours after JFK’s assignation).
The museum features a selection of permanent historical and cultural exhibits which examine his boyhood years through the turbulent 1960s, including his untimely ascendency to the presidency on November 22, 1963,
and major policy decisions which have shaped his presidential legacy (e.g., the Voting Rights act of 1965, Head Start, War on Poverty and Vietnam).
A smaller section was dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson during her White House years.
There was also an interesting etched bronze plaque which depicts LBJ with his four predecessors (FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and JFK).
As with other presidential libraries we’ve visited, there are also changing exhibits. On display is a tribute to
In the form of a series of large photographs (some which we’ve seen before and some which very graphic) from the Civil War,
The Spanish American War, World War I,
World War II,
the Iraqi War and the War in Afghanistan.