Capitol DelayedOn the Road Again, Day 2: Columbus, MS to Little Rock, AR
In our continuing quest to explore state capitol buildings, we charted our course to take us through Little Rock, whose entire state government was experiencing a snow-driven shutdown when we tried to visit the statehouse last December. Today, the weather gods were smiling on us and on the early 20th century Neoclassical Arkansas center of government.
|Arkansas State Capitol|
Despite Davis's efforts, construction on the statehouse resumed in 1904 amid disputes between suppliers, contractors and the government agents charged with overseeing the project. Delays, poor material quality, and shabby workmanship were alleged, and in the process six state senators were charged with bribery (one convicted). Ultimately, all parties involved—architect, contractors, and capitol commission—were dismissed when the building was deemed unsafe. Contractors' efforts to maintain control over the construction site by sealing off the building were thwarted when state officials turned repo men, broke into the building's front entrance and sent the hired security team packing. The government threw up a fence manned by armed guards to prevent future encroachment, and a new architect and contractor were hired to finish the job. Much of the half-completed interior had to be torn out and rebuilt due to construction shortcuts.
|Old Supreme Court Chamber, now used for legislative committee meetings|
|Easy breezy parking|
The security screening for the Arkansas State Capitol was less than cursory. The friendly guard at the first floor door (no entrance through the bronze main doors) asked us to step through the metal detector, carrying all our belongings. When all our electronics predictably set off the alarm, he took a glance in my bag and waved us in.
|We saw the light...|
|Work on dome restoration (photo from Arkansas Democrat Gazette)|
|Grand staircase to the Senate Chamber|
|Holding $174,000 of Arkansas taxpayers' money|
|Tiffany bronze entrance doors|
Like Mississippi's statehouse, the Arkansas capitol building occupies land where the state penitentiary once stood. Since the prison was still on site when construction began in 1899, the state took advantage of the "free" labor afforded by the inmates, who lived in a unit left on capitol grounds during construction.
|Convicted felons earn their keep doing construction work.|
Arkansas Capitol Stats:
- Architectural style: Neoclassical
- Exterior: Limestone and granite from Arkansas
- Dome: Indiana limestone
- Height: 213 feet
- Construction: 1899-1915
- Original cost: $2,205,779
- State Senate: 35 members
- State House: 100 members
More Photos from Arkansas Capitol
|Detail of Tiffany door (interior)|
|Winter cabbages all planted|
|Governor portraits on first floor|
|Governor's Reception Room|
|Grand staircase to House chamber|
|Stained glass state seal|