Monday, October 24, 2016

Visiting the Virginia State Capitol Building

Richmond, Va. is a city filled with history. One of the most historic buildings is the Virginia State Capitol Building. Originally designed by Thomas Jefferson, it is an impressive building that has been a model for countless other buildings around the country. The original space was expanded by adding an underground area below the building in the hill that it sits atop. Security is tight; it is, after all, an active building where legislators meet. Entrance to the Capitol is on Bank Street which is in the new section. On street parking is available but limited. Tours are offered but it is not difficult to tour on your own if that is what you want.

Houdon Statue of George Washington

The Rotunda is spectacular. It soars two stories with a dome in the center over the magnificent sculpture of George Washington by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. It is life-sized and Houdon visited Washington at Mount Vernon to do a facial mask and to get his exact proportions. Additionally, there is an Houdon bust of the Marquis de Lafayette and later busts the of seven other men who are Virginians who became President of the United States. All in all, it is a very impressive sight.

Robert E. Lee in the Old Delegates Hall

One of the most historically significant rooms in the capitol is the Old Delegates Hall. It was the scene of the trial of Aaron Burr for treason in 1807. There are many plaques, statuary and other historical items on display in the room but one thing that can’t be missed is the statue of Robert E. Lee placed on the spot where he accepted the command of the Army of Northern Virginia. He has his back turned to the statue of George Washington in the Rotunda. Among the Virginians who are represented in this room are Cyrus McCormick, John Marshall and Sam Houston.

The Old Senate Chamber

For the first 50 years of its existence, this room was a courtroom. The senators met in a small room on another floor. In the early 1840’s it was converted to use by the Senate and in 1861 it became the Hall of Congress for the Confederacy and served that roll until 1865. It was in this room that the body of well-loved Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson lay in state and also that of former president John Tyler. There are several monumental paintings in the room that are also worth a look.

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