A State of ConfusionATLANTA, Georgia —After wandering into the Missouri statehouse in Jefferson City last September, we have sought out opportunities to explore state capitol buildings in our travels. Last year we logged visits to ten statehouses, ruing the many chances we squandered before discovering how fascinating these seats of government can be. We passed through the capital cities of at least 17 other states in 2012 and within 50 miles of numerous other capitals without ever considering a stop at the statehouse.
Now that we know better and since our travels this year have been somewhat limited by family needs, we decided it was time we visited the capitol of our own state. Considering we lived for 25 years in an Atlanta house less than four miles from this esteemed building, we were quite overdue. We waited until the annual 40-day legislative term ended in late March, which greatly facilitated our ability to find parking nearby.
|Georgia State Capitol, eastern view (rear of building)|
Since we entered from the rear of the building, our first stop was the ground floor, where we encountered a most unusual display—a recently recovered and highly prized piece of Georgia history on exhibit. During the War of 1812, Georgian Lt. Col. Daniel Appling distinguished himself in the 15-minute Battle of Big Sandy Creek in upstate New York by leading an ambush attack on a superior force of British pursuing his troops. Months later, the Georgia General Assembly commissioned a ceremonial sword of honor to be presented to Appling in recognition of his courage and ingenuity. Unfortunately, the colonel died before he could receive the tribute, and legislators decided to retain the sword and display it in the governor’s office.
|A costly exhibit|
Other exhibits on the ground floor portrayed scenes from various geographical regions of Georgia. These appeared to date from the 1970s or so and looked as if they hadn't had much attention since then. They badly need some TLC.
|Georgia Capitol Dome interior|
|Clockwise from top left: Washington, Missouri, Kansas, Oregon, Oklahoma, New Mexico, California, South Dakota (Georgia in center)|
For example, Tom Watson, a nineteenth century legislator and journalist who was a vigorous antisemitic, anti-Catholic racist, is honored with a 12-foot bronze statue at the main entrance of the Capitol. The statue's pedestal bears this tribute: "A champion of right who never faltered in the cause." Since Watson was an advocate of lynching and the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan, this honorific begs the question of what the 'cause' was for which his steadfastness is praised.
|Schoolchildren pass a statue honoring Tom Watson to enter their state's capitol.|
|No doubt the Presidential seal halo effect is just a coincidence.|
|The favorite exhibit of many a school child who visited the capitol on a field trip.|
|Exhibit cases which would be right at home in any antique flea market|
As the eighth most populous state and one of the original thirteen colonies, Georgia has produced some notable and notorious characters. We need a statehouse which focuses on positive aspects of Georgia such as the accomplishments of the home-grown Carter and King Centers rather than the current miasma that is designed to pander to those who love Honey Boo Boo. At least her portrait hasn't made its way to the halls of the statehouse...yet.
Georgia Capitol Stats:
- Atlanta metro population: 5.3 million (most populous state capitol metro)
- Built: 1884-1889
- Cost: $999,882 (slightly under $1 million budget)
- Architectural style: Classical Renaissance
- Dome surface: 23 k Georgia gold
- Exterior: Indiana limestone
- Building height: 272 ft (to top of dome)
- Taller buildings than capitol in Atlanta, 1889: 0
- Taller buildings than capitol in Atlanta, 2013: 60
- Statue on top of dome: Goddess of Liberty (aka, Miss Freedom)
- Conjoined animals on exhibit in capitol: 2 (calf and snake)
More Georgia Capitol Photos
|Statues of Senator Richard Russell (L) and Civil War era Governor Joseph Brown and his wife|
|Capitol dome covered with gold leaf from metal mined in Georgia.|
|Often the scene of protests and speeches, the Georgia capitol is nicknamed the People's House.|
|Main entrance to the Georgia capitol |
(When I walked across the street to take this photo, I was approached by a homeless man offering me a well-worn pastry.)
|Georgia founder James Oglethorpe overlooks the grand staircase in the north wing.|
|A skylight added to the floor of the rotunda to illuminate offices on the floor below.|
|Replica of Miss Freedom (crowning statue of the dome)|