Scenic USA - Arkansas

Arkansas State Capitol

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Arkansas State Capitol - Little Rock, Arkansas

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     Arkansas, meaning south wind in a Native American tongue, entered the Union in 1836. Believing statehood to be imminent, Territorial Governor John Pope proceeded with design and construction of a state capitol building in 1833. By the turn of the century, the Old State House was in desperate need of repair, and by 1911 all governmental offices had moved out. Architect George Mann showcased his unused plans for the Montana capitol building around Little Rock, receiving praise from the majority of a seven member commission. Bearing a strong resemblance to the United States Capitol Building, the Arkansas Capitol building was completed in 1915.
     Standing over 200 feet tall, the neo-classical building features an Arkansas and Indiana limestone exterior with two wings extending from a circular rotunda, capped off with a dome and gold leafed covered cupola. Spanning 16 years in the construction process, architect George Mann had never gained then Commissioner George Donaghey's vote; and when Donaghey was elected governor, Mann was replaced by Cass Gilbert. On a side note, it was builder George Donaghey that incorrectly misaligned the building's foundation, not running true to Little Rock's east-west street grid. Today, the entrance walk highlights this fact with a small S-turn in the walkway to the capitol steps.
     The capitol building's highlights begin with six solid bronze 10 foot tall entrance doors, each costing 10,000 (1910) dollars apiece, crafted by Tiffany's of New York in 1910. The rotunda chandelier, suspended by a 73 foot chain, weighs more than two tons. Located on the south wall of the rotunda is a stained glass interpretation of the Great Seal of the State of Arkansas. The Governorís Reception Room, built in a Craftsman style and used by the governor to meet with staff, reporters, members of the public, was recently restored to its 1915 appearance.
     In addition to being an architectural classic, the Arkansas State Capitol is also a vital official building, housing both legislative and executive branches of the government. Public tours are welcome weekdays from 9 am to 3 pm.

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