There's No Place Like DomeWestward Ho, Day 53: Oklahoma City, OK, to Fort Smith, AR
Prior to the construction of the U.S. Capitol, domes had most often been seen as a feature of great churches and other religious buildings, rarely in government or civic structures. The designer of the American Capitol, however, included a dome as a symbolic and physical way to bring together the two houses of the legislative branch from their separate wings of the building.
As the United States grew and added more states, the trend of building centers of government topped with a dome like the U.S. Capitol reached a fever pitch. Of all the statehouses currently in use, about four-fifths incorporate a dome of some type. Until quite recently, Oklahoma was in the domeless group, but not by design.
|Oklahoma Capitol, 1999 (photo by Steven Martin)|
For the next 20 years, the public believed that construction of the dome was imminent. Postcards and state publications featured an artist's rendering of the capitol with the dome until 1930. After that time, with the state and nation in the throes of the Great Depression, costs for adding the dome had escalated out of reach.
|Oklahoma Capitol, 2012|
Topping the dome is a 17-foot bronze statue of a Native American warrior, named 'The Guardian' by sculptor Enoch Kelly Haney. A nine-foot replica of the statue stands in the building's rotunda, giving visitors an unusual opportunity for a close look at a crowning statue.
|Art gallery in the Capitol|
|Oil derrick in front of Capitol|
Our tour guide Jack, a retired Army veteran, shared lots of interesting information about the Oklahoma capitol building. Not surprising in a city where innocence was lost in the 1995 bombing of the federal building, security was required before entering the Oklahoma Capitol. A walk-through screener and bag x-ray machine were manned by three security guards. Parking close to the building is restricted to legislators and government staff, but we found free parking within easy walking distance and enjoyed our visit to this most unusual state capitol.
Oklahoma Capitol Stats:
- Architectural style: Greco-Roman
- Rooms: 650
- Size: 400,000 sq. ft.
- Building height: 243 ft.
- Dome surface: pre-cast concrete
- Construction: 1914-17
- Original cost: $1.5 million
- Dome added: 2001-02
- Dome cost: $21.5 million
More Oklahoma Capitol Photos
|Capitol Art Gallery|
|Old Man (Arapaho) by Brent Learned|
|Blue Room, formal area for governor's receptions, bill signings and other ceremonies|
|House of Representatives Chamber|
|Hall of Governors|