North Dakota’s current Capitol is one of only four State Capitols which look like high-rise office buildings … Baton Rouge LA, Lincoln, NE and Tallahassee FL being the other three.
The nineteen-story building stands just shy of 241 feet 8 inches in height. It is the tallest building in North Dakota and is known as the Skyscraper on the Prairie. This tower houses the office of the Governor of North Dakota and the offices of multiple state agencies and departments.
The simplicity of its Art Deco styling is seen in its clean lines, open spaces, streamlined curving shapes and rich materials like the Indiana Limestone and Wisconsin black granite that over the façade of the building. Minnesota granite makes up the front staircase.
At the tower's base, in the west wing, the two chambers of the State’s Legislative Assembly (94 Representatives and 47 Senators beet every two years for a maximum of 80 days … true citizen legislators) meet when in session while the North Dakota Supreme Court meets in the east wing. The 18th floor of the Capitol is not used for offices as the other floors are, but rather as an observation deck; it is the highest vantage point in the state.
The original North Dakota State Capitol building,
built between 1883 and 1884, expanded in 1894 (Senate wing) and 1903 (House wing) and which burned to the ground the morning of December 28, 1930.
North Dakota was the 39th state, having been admitted to the union on November 2, 1889. However, development to its capital came slowly and can be appreciated thru the following photo of its Main Street.
We were fortunate to have a private tour this morning.
Ground Floor Lobby
Elevator and Revolving Doors Brass Reliefs
Conference couches line the Legislative Hall
Supreme Court Chamber
Photo of the USNS City of Bismarck (JHSV-9) – Although being a retired naval office, I’d never heard of a JHSV (Joint High Speed Vessel). JHSVs have a 20,000 square foot open mission deck and an aviation flight deck to support day and night air vehicle launch and recovery operations. They can operate in a variety of roles to include supporting overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supporting special operations forces and supporting emerging joint sea-basing concepts. The City of Bismarck joined the fleet earlier this year.
View from the 18th Floor Observation Level
As with most State Capitols, the surrounding grounds are populated with a variety of monuments, memorials and sculptures.
Sakakawea (“The Bird Woman”) – the Shoshone woman who was born not too far west of Bismarck. At approximately age 13, Sacagawea was taken as a wife by Toussaint Charbonneau, a Quebecois trapper living in her village. She was pregnant with her first child when Lewis and Clark arrived. She is joined their expedition and between 1804 and 1806, she traveled thousands of miles from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean, established cultural contacts with Native American populations, and researched natural history. Her son, Jean Baptist Charbonneau was born during the expedition in February 1805
Next to the Capitol Building is the 52 million dollar North Dakota Heritage Center, one of the state’s largest museums. Unfortunately, as we had am 11:00 AM appointment to tour the Governor’s Mansion, we had time to visit only part of this diverse building … with most of that time in the “Adaption Gallery: Geologic Time” … study in paleontology; with fossils dating from 450 million years ago
Though the ages of great ocean fish and reptiles;
Xiphactinus was one of the largest bony fish of the Late Cretaceous and is considered one of the fiercest creatures in the sea. A powerful tail and wing like pectoral fins shot the 17-foot-long monster through the surface waters of the ocean.
Retiles and Dinosaurs;
early flying Reptiles and Birds;
A rock showing the K/T Boundary is also on display
The K-T boundary is the point in between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods. Geologists have dated this period to about 65.5 million years ago. It is denoted by the BROWN layer (above). Almost all the large vertebrates on Earth, on land, at sea, and in the air (all dinosaurs, plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, and pterosaurs) suddenly became extinct about 65 Ma, at the end of the Cretaceous Period. At the same time, most plankton and many tropical invertebrates, especially reef-dwellers, became extinct, and many land plants were severely affected. Despite the scale of the extinctions, however, we must not be trapped into thinking that the K-T boundary marked a disaster for all living things. Most groups of organisms survived. Insects, mammals, birds, and flowering plants on land, and fishes, corals, and molluscs in the ocean went on to diversify tremendously soon after the end of the Cretaceous.
and Mammals, some of which existed during the time our human ancestors walked on the earth.
Bison Antiquus – 1,000 lbs – 6.9’ shoulder height – Horn span 3.3’
Buffalo Iatifrons (earliest) – 2,500 to 4,000 lbs – 8’ shoulder height – Horn span 4’-7’
Bison bison (modern) – 930 – 2,000 lbs – 6’ shoulder height – Horn span 2’
From there we walked across the capital grounds to the current residence of the Governor. We were lucky to get the tour as it is not commonly know they are available. We just called … it ws that simple!
The building, completed in 1960, is more contemporary that others we’ve visited; although it was apparently designed in the prairie ranch style.
Once inside, we had a private tour of the “public” portion of the mansion … while the Governor’s family private quarters are not available, which is understandable.
There is a conscientious effort made to decorate the residence with artwork made by North Dakota artisans. Some of the amazing pieces we saw included:
From there we went to the Former Governor’s Mansion
built in 1884 as a private home for Bismarck businessman Asa Fisher. Fisher homesteaded in Edwinton (Bismarck) in 1872 and made his fortune in banking, real estate and liquor sales. In 1893, the house was sold to the state for $5000. The house was used as the governor's residence from 1893–1960 and was the home of twenty North Dakota governors. In 1975, the State Legislature passed House Bill 1315 which transferred ownership to the State Historical Society of North Dakota. The house was renovated to look as it did in 1893 and opened to the public as a North Dakota State Historic Site in 1983.
The first things we noticed was the door knobs
All the furniture in the home was used by one of the thirty-five first families who lived in the residence.