The perfect antidote for another snowy April afternoon was an outing to the Minnesota State Capitol building. Last summer the building reopened after a restoration and renovation that took over three years. After clearing away 110 years of grime and dirt, repairing water damage, repainting walls, restoring skylights and stained glass, the building is a jewel of color and beauty. The rotunda sparkles and shines and is surrounded by paintings and statues telling the story of the state and its people. It’s an architectural (and decorative) wonder for having been built in the early 1900’s.
We recently took a special starlight tour of the Minnesota State Capitol Building, one of the most majestic and beautiful buildings in Saint Paul. Designed in the late 1890’s by Cass Gilbert and opened to the public in January, 1905, the building towers over the city. The exterior is made of white marble and granite, and the unsupported marble dome is the second largest in the world. At the center of the first floor, under the massive dome, is a brass and glass star representing the North Star State. We toured the chambers of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court, and we climbed to the roof and the base of the capitol dome to see the golden sculpture that’s called the Quadriga. Titled “The Progress of the State” it is a chariot drawn by four horses representing the powers of nature: earth, wind, fire, and water. At night the statues, which are covered with gold leaf, glow with the warmth of the lights illuminating them. From this high vantage point we could see the Cathedral of St. Paul which is down the boulevard from the Capitol, we could see the lights of the High Bridge spanning the Mississippi River, and we could look across the western sky to the downtown skyline of Minneapolis. It was the perfect late summer night to take in the beauty of this wonderful building and its surroundings.