Cupolas of Capitalism
State Capitol Building Histories

States from W to Z

Wisconsin State Capitol Building, 1917. George W. Post, architect. Photo courtesy of Les Partridge.

View of the Wisconsin State Capitol Building.
Photograph courtesy of Les Partridge, 2001

States with Capitol Buildings featuring prominent exterior cupolas are highlighted in yellow.  Historical information appearing on this page comes from the same sources acknowledged on the first page of this gallery.

Click on any picture to see an enlarged version, or to view the other historic images available in the Cupolas of Capitalism Picture Gallery.  Note as previously mentioned, the 3D links from Google and MS Bing may require a browser plug-in and repeated loading to display correctly.

Washington Olympia (Old & New State Capitols) Old State Capitol at 600 Washington St. SE. (between Legion Way SE. & 7th Ave. SE.) / bird's eye view rotated to show front from MS Bing; and street and maybe a forthcoming 3D view from Google Maps.

1892, Thurston County courthouse designed and built / Willis Ritchie.

1901-05, State purchases Thurston County courthouse for use as the State Capitol, remodeling it and adding a second wing / Willis Ritchie.  Now called the Old State Capitol, housing the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the State Board of Education.

1928, fire gutted Old State Capitol's central tower and 4th floor of west and connecting wings.  Repair work leaves off upper portion of tower / ? architect.

1939, new concrete floors installed in East Wing of Old State Capitol / ? architect.

1949, earthquake destroys major sections of the Old State Capitol, including 10 of the 12 cone topped towers, the House chamber and East Wing galleries, and central rotunda.  Repair work completed with fewer towers / ? architect.

1981-83, Old State Capitol renovated and seismically upgraded / Tonkin, Hoyne, Lokan Architecture & Urban Design.

2006, exterior repairs to Old State Capitol / Cardwell Architects.
New State Capitol at 416 Sid Snyder Ave. SW. (end of 14th Ave. SW., between Capitol Way S. & the east side of Capitol lake) / bird's eye view rotated to show front from MS Bing; street view (of SE corner) and 3D view from Google Maps; and 3D model from 3D Warehouse.

1893-94, New State Capitol designed and foundation begun but stopped due to lack of funds / Ernest Flagg.

1911, architect Ernest Flagg proposes a campus of capitol buildings.  National design competition for the campus is held and won by architects Walter R. Wilder and Harry K. White.  Their Temple of Justice is the first building completed in 1920.

1919-28, New State Capitol (a.k.a. the Legislative Building) designed and built as part of the capitol campus plan.  Constructed on top of Flagg's 1893 foundations.  Work above ground began in 1922 / Walter R. Wilder and Harry K. White.

1949, earthquake damage to dome of the New State Capitol forces replacement of its cupola / ? architect.

1965-72, seismic upgrades to New State Capitol after 1965 earthquake / Victor Gray & Associates.

1986, interior renovations to rotunda and dome completed in the New State Capitol / ? architect.

Feb. 28, 2001, the 6.8 magnitude Nisqually earthquake rocks capitol complex and damages the the New State Capitol and its magnificent dome.  Hardy Holzman Pfieffer architects, who had begun in 2000 to develop a proposal for seismic upgrades and renovation, worked with the state and engineers in an attempt to reopen the building in the following weeks.  The earthquake damage would prove too severe.  The building would remain closed to the general public until December of 2004.

2001-2004, rotunda restoration and building renovations in the New State Capitol / NBBJ architects (initially) and SRG Partnership (at completion), with Einhorn Yaffee Prescott as historic architect.
Old Washington State Capitol Building. Image courtesy of Gene Thomas.
Richardsonian Romanesque Old Capitol
was originally 150 feet high with a central octagonal clock tower (now gone) and 12 smaller conical shaped towers (2 remaining).  Offsite, a photo essay is available from the OSPI website.  The University of Washington Library offers historic photos of the building in their Digital Collection.  An article on the 1928 fire that also discusses the building history is available from HistoryLink.  Mary Ann Sullivan's Digital Imaging Project offers a building description and photo gallery.

Washington State Capitol Building Complex, showing the domed Legislative Building in the center. Historic postcard image courtesy of Chris Miller.
Beaux Arts style New State Capitol Building (Legislative Building)
.  Features a central circular drum tower with dome and cupola.  287 feet tall.  More info offsite with this official site offering general building information and virtual tours.  The Washington State Legislature site offers a fun Capitol Campus Trivia Game, rewarding correct answers with handsome images of the capitol building.  HistoryLink features a construction history with several period photos.  More historic images may be found in the Universityof Washington Library's Digital Collection.  Mary Ann Sullivan has made a building description and photo gallery available via her Digital Imaging Project.  A few photos and a short description of the 2001-04 project appear on the SRG Partnership website.
West Virginia Charleston 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E. (between Greenbrier St. & California Ave.) / bird's eye view rotated to show North Front from MS Bing; street view showing South Front and maybe forthcoming 3D view from Google Maps; and 3D model from 3D Warehouse.

1924-32, Capitol designed and built.  East Wing built from 1924-25, West Wing from 1926-27, and central section from 1930-32.  Exterior dome first given its painted and partially gilded finish in 1931 / Cass Gilbert.

1946, dome painted over after gilding is removed.  Dome repainted periodically in the decades that follow.

1988-90, dome gilded again, but this time completely.

2004-05, dome and cupola restoration, structural repairs, and other building renovations.  Restored the dome's original painted and partially gilded appearance / Swanke Hayden Connell Architects.
20th century photo showing a front aerial view of the West Virginia State Capitol complex. From the Library of Congress's Historic American Buildings Survey.
Renaissance Revival capitol building
with central circular drum tower capped with golden dome and cupola, capped with a sculpture of a red eyed eagle.  292 feet tall by one official account, and 293 feet by another.  (Reported building heights are rarely clear about where and how they were taken).  More info offsite with this official building history and description, a captioned photo gallery, and a fact sheet.  A legislative newsletter in Adobe Acrobat format provides a more detailed account of the recent dome restoration.  A building summary and photo essay are available from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History website.  Unofficial sites offer a photo essay, from the Glass, Steel, and Stone website, and a photo essay discussing the dome, from Valerie Mockaitis.  Art historian Mary Ann Sullivan offers a photo album showing conditions before the 2004 restoration, and photographer Edward Crim offers another after it was complete.
Wisconsin Madison 2 E. Main St. (at Martin Luther King Blvd., between S. Carroll & S. Pinckney Streets) / bird's eye view rotated to show Main St. side from MS Bing; street and 3D view from Google Maps; and 3D model from 3D Warehouse.

1906-17, Capitol designed and built / George Browne Post and Sons.  West Wing built from 1906-09, East Wing from 1908-10, South Wing from 1910-13, North Wing from 1914-17, and central rotunda and dome from 1911-15.

1930s-70s, various piecemeal alterations, addressing needs for new or different office spaces, changing tastes, and general building upkeep.  New offices inserted, walls changed, and spaces redecorated as fit at the time.  Original stencil work along ceilings and woodwork reinterpreted or painted over.  The 1960s and 70s saw the decorative wall and ceiling murals cleaned, repaired, touched up in oil, and varnished.  HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems reworked and patched as needed to accommodate new technology and plan alterations.

1964-65, exterior stone sandblasted and given an acid bath, a common practice at the time.  A later building survey found that this cleaning had not only removed the darkened grime, but it had also etched portions of the stone finish, causing it to darken faster in the years that followed.

1967, Governor's Conference Room redecorated.  Cherry wood walls and gilded ceiling painted over in white.  Changes reversed in a later restoration.

1968, Rotunda renovated.  Treated water replaces the plumbing system's original direct lake water supply.

1976, North Hearing Room remodeled and Senate and Assembly Chambers redecorated.

1988-2001, major $145 million renovation and historic restoration / Kahler Slater, Inc. (West, North, & South Wings and Rotunda, from 1988-98); and East Wing Architects LLC (East Wing, from 1998-2001), a joint venture of Kahler Slater, Inc., and preservation architect, Isthmus Architecture, Inc.

2008-09, dome renovation and moisture repairs / Isthmus Architecture, Inc.
General view of the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. Courtesy of Pat and Debbi Furrie, from June of 2003.
Beaux Arts style State Capitol Building
features a central circular drum tower capped with a dome, cupola, and a statue called Wisconsin, by sculptor Daniel Chester French.  Approx. 285 feet tall from ground to top of crowning statue.  More info offsite from the Wisconsin government site with an official virtual tour, building photos, and an illustrated building history.  A nearly identical building history is available from the website.  The state legislature's online bluebook (in Adobe Acrobat format) also includes a very detailed, illustrated history of the capitol building that is split into parts one and two.  For even greater detail, a copy of the six volume Wisconsin State Capitol's Historic Structure Report is available online from the State of Wisconsin Collection.  A gallery of historic capitol pictures is available at the Wisconsin Electronic Reader site.  Other historic pictures of Madison and its capitol are available at the Historic Madison website.
Wyoming Cheyenne 200 W. 24th St. (at Capitol Ave.) / bird's eye view from MS Bing; street and 3D view from Google Maps; and 3D model from 3D Warehouse.

1886-90, Capitol designed and built.  Central portion and dome completed in 1888; small East and West Wings built from 1888-90 / David W. Gibbs.

1900, dome gilded in gold leaf.  Regilded periodically in the decades that follow.

1915-17, House and Senate chambers added / William Dubois.

1950's, exterior sandstone surfaces covered with stucco / ? architect.

1974-80, building renovated.  Interiors restored, wood beams replaced; HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems modernized / ? architect(s).

1997, exterior stabilization, restoration and roofing replacement study / HDH Associates, P.C.

1998, the Wyoming Dept. of Administration and Information begins to implement the HDH study.  Part of this work results in the removal of the old skylights that had provided natural daylight for the stained glass ceilings in the Senate and House Chambers.  New copper roofing and artificial lighting is installed in their place.

2007-08, new rooftop skylights installed, exposing glass ceilings in Senate and House Chambers to natural daylight once more / Glen E. Garrett, Architect AIA.
Historic photo showing an oblique view of the Wyoming State Capitol. From the Library of Congress's Historic American Buildings Survey.
French Renaissance Revival capitol building
.  Features a central circular drum tower capped with gold gilded dome and cupola.  Stained glass inner dome.  146 feet tall to dome's peak.  More info offsite with photo essays from the State of Wyoming Department of Administration and Information.  Other sites include a photo gallery from Edward Crim; a few photos and a description from the Waymarking website; and an illustrated article from Dave Walsh and his Wonders of Wyoming.  Many other capitol photos of varying quality may of course be found via a Flickr search.

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