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State Capitols
A Never-ending Hobby . . .

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Contributors' Corner
 

statecapitols.tigerleaf.com
What's On Top, Cupolas (on domes) 1

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Arkansas — Observation Decks, Dome, Cupola

Arkansas capitol front entrance
image courtesy of DWQ_Online

Ornamentation
Many state capitols, like this one, were built in tough times. Some originally planned frills were eliminated to save money with the intent they could be added later.

 

Dome
The dome for the Arkansas capitol was originally supposed to be much more complicated with ports, ribs, and sculpture, as can be seen in the architect's conception postcard at far right. When Cass Gilbert was hired to complete the building's interrupted construction in 1909, he instead chose the simple Indiana limestone dome, borrowing plans from the recently completed Mississippi capitol.

Capitol dome and cupola
image courtesy of DWQ_Online

 

Capitol cupola closeup
detail from image at left

Cupola
On top of the dome is the open, lantern style cupola. It has a gilded roof topped with a gilded copper sphere.

 
More on Arkansas:
Telling Them Apart, Unique Architectural Components
Favorites, Nature
Favorites, That's a Laugh

 
 

statecapitols.tigerleaf.com
What's On Top, Cupolas (on domes) 1

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California — Observation Decks, Dome, Cupola

Dome
California's copper-sheathed dome was restored along with many parts of the building around 1980, so for a short time it was copper-colored again. It was probably green before it reached its current black finish. That is the typical aging process for copper, but remember, not all green domes are copper!

drum detail

Ornamentation
The California capitol is lavishly decorated. The original plans called for the ornamentation to be done in granite ashlar, but the final decision by the Capitol Commission was for everything above the first floor to be covered in mastic instead, with the ornamentation to be done in cast-iron. The detail image above is from the upper drum section in the photo at right.

 

California capitol dome
images courtesy of Byron Tilly

drum columns closeup
from lower drum section

 

Cupola
More decorative detailing is found on the cupola. The columns are as ornate as those on the lower drum section.

cupola closeup

Cupola Roof and Ball Tip
The cupola roof is gold-plated and topped with a 30-inch diameter, gold-plated ball tip.

 
More on California:
Telling Them Apart, Prominent Decorations
Favorites, Intriguing Interiors 2
Favorites, Nature

 
 

statecapitols.tigerleaf.com
What's On Top, Cupolas (on domes) 1

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Colorado — Observation Decks, Dome, Cupola


image courtesy of
Stephen Butler

 

Colorado capitol cupola
detail from
image at left

Cupola
On top of the cupola is a four-foot diameter glass ball with a light in it; a disappointment to many. Be sure to read about the cupola topper in Favorites,
That's A Laugh

on this site.


Colorado cupola aerial

 
From
the Top

Here is a different angle on this cupola! Normally, only the birds see the detail up here.

image courtesy of
I, Morcheeba
through
Creative Commons

 

Capitol dome, gold leaf
image courtesy of
Stephen Butler

Dome
Originally, the cast iron dome on this capitol was copper-clad. The decision was made early on to cover it with gold leaf to commemorate the miners and pioneers of the Colorado Gold Rush who helped build the state. When the gilding was completed and the lightbulb mentioned above was turned on, the building was finally considered finished.

 
More on Colorado:
Telling Them Apart, It's In the Drum
Favorites, Nature
Favorites, Night Shots
Favorites, Photographic Art
Favorites, That's A Laugh

 
 

statecapitols.tigerleaf.com
What's On Top, Cupolas (on domes) 1

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Connecticut — Tall Drum, Statues, Dome, Cupola

Dome and drum
image courtesy of
Catherine Brulotte
Barraclou.com

Drum
The drum under the dome on this capitol is so tall that it caused quite some controversy over the design. The architect won the debate.

The dome itself is 32 feet tall, the cupola on top with its amazing roof is 55 feet in height, and the drum below is a whopping 75 feet. Compared to the 70-foot height of the building's front wall and the 18 feet of mansard roof above that, the drum is immense. (The whole front is pictured on the Telling Them Apart page linked below.)

 

The Connecticut state capitol is an ornate building with a highly decorated drum and dome. The detailing on the drum, a few of the statues encircling the dome, and a finial on top of one of the turret roofs all are worth noting in the image below. Then there is the cupola pictured at right, with its intricate roof. Believe it or not, there also used to be a statue on top of the cupola. (See Favorites, Statues)

Roof and dome detail
image courtesy of
David Lingner (San Diego, CA)
through a Creative Commons License

Statues
There are twelve statues around the gilded dome, two matching sets of 6 with the matching pairs on opposite sides. They represent Agriculture, Commerce, Education/Law, Force/War, Science/Justice, and Music.

The original plan called for one statue representing each of the original thirteen colonies with Connecticut's on top of the cupola. Finances were strained due to the immensity of the project and some misfortunes, so this less expensive plan was made. Connecticut's own statue was in place on the very top until 1938. (See Favorites, Statues)

 

Cupola detail
Cupola
image courtesy of
David Lingner
(San Diego, CA)

through a Creative Commons License


 
Dome perimeter statues
Statues
image used by permission of the State of Connecticut

 
More on Connecticut:
Telling Them Apart, Domed but Different
Favorites, Statues

 
 

statecapitols.tigerleaf.com
What's On Top, Cupolas (on domes) 1

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Kentucky — Dome, Observation Deck, Cupola

Kentucky capitol dome and pediment
image courtesy of OZinOH

Dome
The Kentucky capitol dome is constructed of terra cotta tiles over steel beams. Also see our page, Telling Them Apart, Prominent Decorations, for more about dome and drum features.

Pediment Sculpture
The sculpture filling the entire pediment over the entrance to this capitol is very detailed. It shows Lady Kentucky surrounded by "Progress," "Plenty," "Art," and "Agriculture." The enlargement at right shows how three-dimensional the figures actually are, especially Lady Kentucky who appears to be attached to the scene only at her feet.

 

Cupola
The unique, square cupola has a light inside, a pyramid-shaped roof, and some curiously wired spheres on top.

spheres on cupola roof

 

Kentucky capitol cupola

Cupola images above and pediment image below courtesy of
Edward Crim photographer, the State Capitols project

pediment sculpture
Pediment Sculpture

 
More on Kentucky:
Telling Them Apart, Prominent Decorations
Favorites, Intriguing Interiors, Kentucky
Favorites, Just Because

 
 

What's On Top, Cupolas (on domes) 1

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Massachusetts — Dome, Cupola, Pine Cone

cupola on Massachusetts dome
image courtesy of
Della M. Huff

pine cone closeup
detail from
image at left

Pine Cone
At the very top of this capitol is a gilded pine cone. It was chosen to represent the abundant forests of Massachusetts that made survival possible for the early settlers.

The pine cone finial is also an intersection station benchmark of the National Geodetic Survey. Though relatively small, it is easily visible and recognizable from a distance in many directions.

Massachusetts state house entrance
image courtesy of Della M. Huff

Massachusetts state house dome
image courtesy of Philocrites

The Massachusetts capitol sits on Beacon Hill with city buildings on all sides except in front. The usual view of the dome is from below, down the hill, which does not show the lower dome construction as in the photo above.

Dome
The Massachusetts state house dome was originally constructed entirely of wood, including being covered with wood shingles. To prevent leaks, it was sheathed in copper by Paul Revere's company, and many years later it was gilded. For a while during World War II it wore yet another look; it was painted gray to disguise its true identity, a building of national importance.

The rotunda in this capitol is not under the golden dome. That space is occupied by the Senate chamber. The dome is over the original building, and the rotunda with the glass ceiling often described as under the dome is located behind it in Memorial Hall, also called the Hall of Flags.

Aerial photo of Massachusetts state house
image courtesy of Della M. Huff

 
More on Massachusetts:
Telling Them Apart, Manhunting, A Poem
Favorites, Night Shots

 

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statecapitols.tigerleaf.com


 
Page Last Updated: Jul-22-2013

For complete image credits and information sources, see Credits & Sources.

Site Author: Valerie Mockaitis     ©2005-2013 Valerie Mockaitis

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