Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gotta Go: Old State Capitol

In the middle of the 1800s, North Carolina built a fine stone capital building in the center of Raleigh. By the 1960s, state leaders tired of the graceful "old" building and instead designed a modern legislative building a block away.

In a fit of wisdom, officials decided not to tear down the first capital. Go visit it. Take the youngsters, or your spouse.

What's there?

Our early state leaders naturally included separate House and Senate chambers. They survive, quaint and majestic at the same time. Old timey desks complete with inkwells from the period rest contentedly on luxurious carpeting. Fireplaces abound, and a self-guided tour explains the massive pile of firewood on the first floor that stewards had to wheel upstairs every winter day to keep the high officials warm during their deliberations.

The granite building was carefully crafted after features of ancient Greek temples. Exterior columns are Doric, modeled after those of the Parthenon. Crowning the structure is a magnificent rotunda. At nearly 100 feet from floor to rounded top, the feature still inspires awe.

Busts and statues adorn the capitol inside and out. There's a good chance you'll see a real-life political leader wander through the building while you're touring.

There is, of course, much to see in the core of the state's capital city besides the Old Capitol. The new history and natural sciences museums are directly across the street from the Capitol, as well as across Jones Street from the new Legislative Building. Restaurants abound. The Marbles kids museum is nearby.

We often overlook wonderful and important historic sites because they are familiar. But the Old Capitol Building is a gem. It'll make you sink your roots in your home state.

No comments:

Post a Comment