Monday, January 4, 2010

The State Capitol Building in Helena

Whilst we were in Helena, which is the state capital for Montana, we went to see the Capitol building.  We are always amazed that, in this day and age, you can just walk freely around State Capitol Buildings.  There is a security guard at a desk in reception but apart from welcoming us, all he did was give us a sheet to enable us to do a self guided tour, and off we went!

The building is faced with sandstone and on its east and west wings, granite.  It is topped with a copper dome. 

Large, impressive central staircase.

At the top of the stairs, there is a statue of Jeanette Rankin who was the first woman to be elected to the United States House of Representatives and the first female member of the US Congress.  She is sometimes referred to as "the Lady of the House".  She also joined the campaign for womens suffrage and was a lifelong pacifist and voted against the entry of the United States into both World War I and World War II.

Also at the top of the stairs is a statue of Wilbur Fisk Sanders, who helped found the Montana Historical Society as he was so keen to document Montana's history.  In 1889 the Montana Legislature selected him to serve as one of its first US Senators.

Above the next staircase, there is a lovely stained glass window.

View of the stairway up to the next level.

Looking up into the dome

Corridors were lined with Christmas trees that had been decorated by local children.

Senate Chambers

House of Representatives Chambers

Behind the speaker's chair, on the wall, is what is considered to be the masterpiece painting by Charles M Russell, who we mentioned in our first Montana post.  It is called "Lewis and Clark Meeting Indians at Ross' Hole", which is on a 12 x 25 foot canvas.  It dates from 1912.

 Bell donated to celebrate Montanas 100th Birthday on 8th November 1989.

And of course, very impressive bathrooms!

A rather stunning tree outside, covered with ice.

It's a beautiful building and it is fabulous that you have such freedom to enjoy it.  Long may it stay that way.

The next and final part of our account of our trip to Montana will follow in due course and it will cover our last day there and the journey home.