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

Strainer spoon

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.

                  Desmoines, Iowa

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


                            Lansing, Michigan

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.

Montgomery, Alabama

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.