Sept 09 – Maine’s State Capitol in Augusta

Today it was destination Augusta to visit Maine's State Capitol, our 48th.

The drive provided its own points of interest.

A true homemade RV

Colorful Bee Hives

Beautiful Lake Refelction

A Touch of Autumn

Several Sculptures

Another Misplaced Lighthouse – promoting a miniature golf course

Crossing the Kennebec River to Wiscasset

Wind Vanes

St John's Episcopal Church, Dresden, ME  (circa 1769)

Another mirror-like pond


Can't believe there is a restaurant that specializes in one of my favorite desserts

A rainbow of chairs along the Kennebec River in Howell, just south of Augusta

And several more additions to my growing mailbox collection

Ariving in Augusta, we found a parking place in one of the State ofifce building parking lots just a block away from the Capitol

When Maine separated from Massachusetts on March 15, 1820 and  became the 23rd state, Brunswick, Hallwell, Waterville, Portland, Belfast, Wiscasset and Augusta all lobbied to become the state capitol.  Portland won out and a two-story federal style building beame Maine's first State House was completed in that same year.

Ultimately destroyed by fire in 1866

For reasons of security (the Portland State House was at risk for being shelled by enemy sailing ships) and to posiiton the capitol more centrally, Governor Enoch Lincoln signed a bill on February 24, 1827 extablishing Aaugusta as the official Capitol.  The land on which the capitol now sits was donated to the state for the sum of ten dollars.

The new Capitol building was designed by Boston architect Charles Bulfinch, who has previsouly designed the nation's capitol in Washington, DC.  Originaly budgeted at $80,000, the final price came in at $139,000.  Much of the construction materials came from just south of Augusta in Hallowell.

Remodeling took place in 1852 and 1860 with a three-story wing added in 1890-91 to accommodate the State Library and additional offices.  A subsequent enlargement in 1909-10 created the current appearanace.  Among all of the state capitols we've visited, Augusta stands out as providing the most dramatic views from all directions.

East Facade


Top of the Copula

"Lady of Wisdom" (sometimes referred to as "Minervaa") – The draped female figure stands 15 feet tall and holds a pine bough in the form of a torch in her right hand and a pine cone in her left.

Northeast View

West Facade

Southwest View

Souteast View

The copper on the dome and gold leaf on the Lady of Wisdom were replaced in 2014.

We arrived about 20 minutes before the next tour was to begin so we were able to mosy around for a while. 

The official state seal of Maine was adopted in 1820. The coat of arms featured on the seal also appears on Maine's state flag and all state seals.

The farmer is a symbol of pride in Maine's agricultural roots. The sailor represents Maine's strong ties to the sea. They stand on a banner with the name "MAINE" (in capital letters).  Symbols of the natural richness of the state are pictured on the center shield – a pine tree (white pine is the official state tree, and Maine's nickname is "The Pine Tree State"), a moose (Maine's state animal), the sea and sky.

The North star shines above Maine's state motto: "DIRIGO" ("I Lead," or "I Direct"). The North star (Polaris) is not merely a symbol of guidance – travelers have depended on it for many centuries to find their way (it always marks due north). 

Collage of business cards (some painted – othersnot) to create a picture of the Capitol

Benches with unique hand carvings

Plaque telling the story of the Portland and Augusta State Capitol Buildings

Note the wearing of the marble steps due to more than nearly two centuries of foot traffic


Unfortunately, the regular tour guide was out today.  However, he was replaced by Fred Hart, the Sargeat-at-Arms for the Maine House of Representatives … and was one of the most knowledgeable tour guides we had anywhere across the county.

Our tour began in the Hall of Flags, so named because of the many battle flags from Maine Regiments that fought in the Civil War and donated by returning soldiers.  Later flags from the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and Desert Storm were added.  In fact, these flags are replicas with the originals maintained for preservation in the State Musuem.  

The floor is made up of thousands of small Italian tiles which were shipped to the United States along with two Italian tile workers.  When they completed their work, the remained in America.

Plaques recognizing veterans of these wars are also prominently displayed.

There are several portraits on the walls, with the two most notable Margaret Chase Smith

who has the distinction of being the first woman to have been elected to both the U.S. House of Rrpresentatives and the U.S. Senate and George Mitchell

a District Judge, U.S. Senator, and Senate Majority Leader and later chaired the successful Good Friday Agreements ending the armed conflict between the Republic or Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In the center of the Hall is a bust of former Governor Percival Proctor Baxter. 

Over a thrity year period the succesful businessman purchased land for what is now Baxter State Park and eventually donated it to the State.

Behind Baxter's bust, is the grand staircase which leads to the second floor.

On the landing as you climb the stairs is a life-sized painting of General George Wasshington.

On the second floor this is a working fire place (however, never used),

scores of photos of past governors, state senators and state representatives.

The individual second from the right on the bottom row was a freshman representative who was killed in the last duel in the United States …with muskets, no less.

In the rotunda, looking up the interior of the dome is impressive

and looking down, fossils, some of animals which perished close to 500 million years ago are clearly visible.

Maclurites is an extinct genus of Ordovician gastropods (snails) found as fossils and useful for stratigraphic correlations (the Ordovician Period lasted from about 488 million to 444 million years ago). The shell is distinctively coiled and easily recognized.

The State House of Representatives

(151 Members of the House, incluing three from Native Tribes who can fully participate other than actual voting, the only state with such reprsentation)

Two idential chairs , one on either side of the dias are reserved for important guests who will address the chamber

The chairs are being replaced this year.  Apparently they are far less comfortable than they look and when viewed up close, they show a lot of "wear and tear"

Electronic board to record member's votes.  Once a vote is called for, no member is permitted to leave the chamber and all members must vote "Yea" or "Nay" … abstentions are not permitted

Original House ballot box into which paper ballots were placed before counting

Until the last rennovation, the capstones in the House chamber were coated with gold leaf

Sara Gideon, only the third female Speaker of the House

In her absence another lady has taken the gavel

The State Senate

(30 Senators)

One of only three known paintings of Abraham Lincoln in which he is standing.  There is another in the Massachusetts State House.  The where abouts of the thrid such painting is unknown.

A native of Maine, Hannibal Hamlin was Lincoln's Vice President during his first term

General Henry Knox, a Revolutionary war friend of George Washington and most noted for traveling to Fort Ticonderoga and haul its guns to Dorchester Heights during the seige of Boston in November 1775.  He and his men moved 60 tons of cannons and other armaments over the course of three winter months by boat, horse, ox-drawn sledges, and manpower along poor-quality roads, across two semi-frozen rivers, and through the forests and swamps of the lightly inhabited Berkshires to the Boston area, covering approximately 300 miles. c Victor Brooks has called Knox's exploit "one of the most stupendous feats of logistics" of the entire American Revolutionary War. The route which he followed is now known as the Henry Knox Trail, and the states of New York and Massachusetts (passing within just one mile from where I grew up) have erected markers along the way.

On the fourth floor, we got an even better view of the Capitol's interior dome

As is the case with every State House around the country, the grounds of the Maine State Capitol have several monuments and memorials.

Maine State Flag

EMS Memorial

Firefighters Memorial

Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

Fountain surrounded by a patio with the names of each of Maine's counties

Replica of the Liberty Bell donated by the American Legion

Exact Replica of the Liberty Bell received in 1950 along with the other 49 states and the District of Columbia – donated by the Department of the Treasury to help promote its Savings Bond Independence Drive.  It weighs 2,080 lbs., has an aged-oak yoke, iron straps and hand forged bolts

Monumnet recognizing the contributions of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC)

Samantha Reed Smith was born in Houlton, Maine 1972 and later moved to Manchester.  At the age of 10, she wrote Soviet Premie Yuri  Andropov expressing her concerns about the possibility of nuclear war.

Premier Andropov repied and invited Samantha and her parents to the Soviet Union.  Upon returning ot the United States she became an activist for peace, wrote a book with her dad's help, appeared on the Disney Channel and spoke internationally.  Tragically, Samantha and her dad were killed in a plane crash in 1983 … when Samantha was just 13 years old.

Memroial to Dedicated to Maine's Vietnam Veterans

A memorial to the victims of 911

Directly across the street to the north of the Capitol Building is Blaine House, the Governor's residence.  Unfortunately, it is closed for tours on Mondays (today).

Immediatley south of the Capitol is the State Museum, also closed on Mondays.  We were. however, able to see two of the exhibits.


Retruning to our campground, we again passed through Wiscasset and were again amazed at the number of poeple in line at "Red's" waiting to order lunch … at 2:30 PM




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