Capitol RestructuringWestward Ho, Day 38: Carson City, NV
NOTE: Our adventures of the day are reviewed in another post, but the Nevada Capitol rated a entry of its own.
Today marked the second time on this trip that we have visited two state capitol buildings on consecutive days. And the Nevada and California capitols marked just as great a contrast as those we observed between North and South Dakota.
The most obvious departure is the size of the capital city. At 55,274, Carson City's population is dwarfed by the much larger Sacramento. And that small town feel was evident in the informality that greeted us at the Nevăda Capitol. Yes, as many official state publications remind, the state's name is pronounced ne-vad-uh. The middle syllable rhymes with bad, not with odd.
|Nevada's State Capitol|
|A main corridor leading to Secretary of State's office|
Consistent with 19th century building techniques, the floors and roof of the capitol were not properly tied to the exterior sandstone walls. By the 1940s, severe deterioration of the mortar and the inherent weakness of the design spurred debate over whether the capitol should be demolished or restored.
When the building was declared hazardous, demolition was ordered in the late 1950s. Yet the order was never carried out as debate continued over the possibility of restoration. Finally in 1974, engineering firms determined that with extensive rehabilitation the building could be saved. Like other old edifices in town, the Capitol building used sandstone at its core, and one good shake could turn it into a pile of rubble. The radical plan was to gut it completely, shore up the walls, and rebuild the interior to make the Capitol resistant to earthquakes and fire.
|Reinforced walls are built inside Capitol shell. (photo from Nevada State Library and Archives)|
|This intricate frieze was removed and restored in the Capitol's renovation.|
|Faux sure, that wainscoting is pretending to be something it isn't.|
Nevada's Capitol building is the second smallest in the country, larger than only Alaska's. With growing needs and a determination to preserve the original structure, the Senate and Assembly moved to a new legislative building near the Capitol in 1971, making Nevada one of only three states in which the legislature does not meet in the Capitol.
|Home to lawmakers since 1971|
Although most of the capitol buildings we've visited have undergone some renovation and restoration, Nevada's statehouse project was by far the most ambitious and exhaustive. Employees we encountered on our visit were friendly and knowledgeable, serving as excellent ambassadors for their state.
Nevada Capitol Stats:
- Architectural style: Neoclassical
- Constructed: 1870-71
- Original cost: $170,000
- Dome surface: tin, replaced with fiberglass painted silver
- Renovation: 1977-81
- Renovation cost: $6 million
More Photos of the Nevada Capitol
|Assembly Chamber (Like California's lower house, a portrait of Lincoln is featured.)|
|Faux sure, that dome is not genuine Nevada silver.|
|The Supreme Court's home sits between the Capitol and legislative building.|
|A fascinating Wooten desk in the Capitol museum had no indication of who had used it.|