Friday, July 25, 2014

Iowa Capitol Building

I had heard how beautiful the Iowa Capitol is and dragged Ron to tour it.  Built between 1871 and 1886, the exterior is certainly imposing with five domes.

The center one is gilded in 23 3/4 karat gold, that is 250,000th of an inch thick.

Standing in the rotunda, I almost fell over looking up into the dome.  (I guess that's why I didn't move just a bit and get the flag straight.)

We saw the Senate Chambers . . .

With the magnificent ceiling and chandeliers.

And the House of Representatives.

But I don't think I've ever seen the Library in any other capitol.  It contains approximately 100,000 law books and is stunning.

It's hard to believe, but we were told they still use this hand-cranked dumb-waiter to move the books.  I guess nobody cares about the poor librarian.

But the building had some other features that I found fascinating.  There was a collection of dolls depicting all of Iowa's first ladies in their inaugural gowns.  Before you ask, they have never had a female governor and our guide wasn't sure what they would do if that was the case in the future.

This picture above the doll case was pretty interesting.  Measuring 26 feet long and 6 feet high, it is an actual photograph of the Rainbow Division, 168th Infantry after its return from France in 1919.

The two statues at the base of the staircase have a story.  They originally belonged to Illinois and were destined for their capitol.  There were complaints that the statues were too scantily clad and Illinois asked Iowa if they wanted them.  How funny is that?

I loved the ceiling above the main entrance.

And this mural painting Westward by Edwin H. Blashfield of New York.  I like the thought of angels watching over those brave pioneers.

But my very favorite thing was this set of six mosaics made of small pieces of glass tile.  They were created by Frederick Dielman of New York who must have been a genius.
Not only are they gorgeous, but the perspective changes as you walk by them on the balcony.  For instance, this picture is taken from the left side . . .

And this is from the right.

See how her eyes follow you?  Spooky, huh?  Other panels seemed to change too.  In one, the feet of two boys seemed to change position.  That one didn't really show up in a picture, so you'll just have to go there.

One more picture of the building with some of the beautiful day lilies.


  1. Wow. That's some beautiful capitol!

  2. A very impressive building, well worth a visit.

  3. A very impressive Capitol Building....wonder if they will ever need to scrap that gold off and take it to the 24 hr pawn? haha

  4. The dome has been gilded five times, most recently in 1999 at a cost of $400,000.

  5. Quite the capitol building. Very beautiful.

    I bet the librarian has some impressive arm muscles! ;c)

  6. I love capitol buildings, I'll have to add this one to my list. I have a couple of things in Iowa I want to see so I'll have to scope out if this is en route. Life Paul I wondered if the pulley in the library was perhaps great exercise. Maybe if I set one up I'd finally get some muscles!

  7. Have you been to Colorado's state capitol? We have a gold dome, too.

  8. That's hilarious about the scantily clad statues. Reminds me of the story about the ones in DC's Union Station and why they all have strategically placed shields standing in front of them ;-)

  9. I am in the process of walking the 50 state capitals to fill in my Volksmarching book and get a state capitals patch. Looks like Iowa's will be quite interesting.

    Thanks for the good info and photos.