The first and most important consideration for any state capitol building is to make a
statement. In all monumental government architecture the primary role is to show the
power and the authority of the governing body. Any observer, regardless of background
or education, must immediately and intuitively understand that this is a building of
Washington D.C. Enameled
Both autocratic and democratic societies use the same logic, but in a democratic society,
the building must also be readily accessible to the citizenry. Thus the interior design
considerations must also reflect the prevailing political philosophies. Artwork must be
related to the overall theme rather than just be considered for its own beauty as is the case
in autocratic societies.
Olympia, salmon handle
engraved picture of the Atlanta, Georgia Capitol building
Beaux-Arts school of architecture (most of the buildings of this time period) is based upon
a scholastic understanding of the power of past architectural styles. By carefully choosing
certain styles, the architect reflects the prevailing political views. In most of the state
capitols, for example, each of the legislative chambers is the same physical size and on the
same floor so that neither can say that it is superior to the other. If the executive branch is
more politically powerful, it will be on a higher floor than the legislature, but if the office
is to be an equal than it will be on the same floor. The location of the supreme court within
the building will also reflect its relationship to the legislative and executive offices.
The architect will pay close attention to the building materials used. Granite and marble
are among the most beautiful natural materials and the most expensive. Extravagant use
will be made of these materials to show the wealth and power of the state. Furthermore,
the source of these materials is often of importance and careful records will be maintained
as to which of the counties provided each type of building material.
"New Capitol", Harrisburg
Thomas Jefferson considered the dome to be the emblem of a democratic society. Most of
the capitol buildings will emulate the national capitol in Washington D.C. and will have
either central rotundas or domes over the legislative chambers. The dome will often be
plated with pure gold which reflects the light and again portrays to all the wealth of the
If possible the capitol building will be sited on a hill in the capitol city. By having the
building above all others, it further identifies the lexis of power. The appropriate choice of
landscaping will accentuate the magnificence of the building.
During the late Victorian era, many new state capitol buildings were built and others were
extensively remodeled to reflect the times and the new technological changes (ie.
electricity and telephones). These spoons either commemorate a new or remodeled capitol
building or were momentos of a citizens visit to the state capitol.
First Capitol of the Confederacy
Spoons with capitol buildings impressed or engraved are rather common. It would be
possible to collect a capitol spoon from each of the states and this collection would have
significant historical interest.
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