At a business lunch recently, one of the speakers was the lady who gives guided tours of the state capitol. She had some interesting facts and figures to tell - and it hit home how little we sometimes know about the history in our own backyard. For instance, I had no idea that Mississippi's state capitol is considered the third prettiest in the nation, trailing only Texas and Washington DC.
Mississippi's State Capitol was designed by architect Theodore C. Link of St. Louis (who also designed Union Station in that city as well as many buildings on the Louisiana State University campus). It was erected on the site of the old state penitentiary. Construction began in January 1901 and was completed in August 1903 at a cost of $1,093,641.
The Capitol is a prime example of Beaux Arts architecture. In 1979-1983, the capitol building underwent a complete restoration, which cost $19 million. The renovation remained true to the original building and strived to maintain the original design when at all possible.
The capitol is 402 feet long and 180 feet to the top of the dome. The dome interior contains 750 lights which illuminate the blind-folded lady representing "Blind Justice" and four scenes: two Indians, a Spanish explorer and a Confederate general. The eagle, which sits atop the dome and faces the city, is made of solid copper coated with gold leaf. The eagle is 8 feet high and 15 feet wide.
A lofty Roman portico of six Corinthian columns supporting a pediment projects from the south facade. The bas-relief sculpture within the pediment allegorically represents the agriculture, industry and arts of Mississippi. Above the portico, at the roof line, stone finials decorated with lions' heads and orbs of metal and glass weight the corners of the central block, which supports the terra cotta dome.
The Mississippi State Capitol is designated a Mississippi landmark building and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Capitol is open for tours Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. Guided group tours are available upon reservation. Admission is free. For more information, call (601) 359-3114.
This Women of the Confederacy Monument sits outside the Capitol. The sculpture was created by artist Belle Kinney and was cast by the Tiffany Studios. The 1917 monument stands on the south side of the Capitol, facing Mississippi Street.
See my other pictures of the Mississippi State Capitol here.