Like most State Capitol buildings guided tours are available, in Olympia they happen every hour, on the hour, between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on weekdays and between 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on weekends. Tours are free and will last 50 minutes, I had limited time so I only joined the tour for the first 10 minutes and then wandered another 10 minutes on my own.
As with most states, this building is not the first in the state's history - I actually saw the old Capitol later that day also. The exterior is limestone quarried in the state of Washington and while plans got going around 1911 it wasn't completed until 1928 for a variety of reasons.
It's looking pretty good considering it has withstood 3 earthquakes since its completion in 1928, right? Of course updating has been done over the decades including improvements to safeguard the building during seismic events. Notice the roofline, whose anthemion cresting is in need of cleaning but still lovely. Wondering what anthemion means? I had to look it up myself, it refers to ornament that resembles radiating petals. The front columns are rather plain in comparison, and if you're checking things out closely I'm sure you noticed the face of Washington in the lower left corner of the photo!
At the time of its opening in 1928 then current Governor Hartley couldn’t resist launching a few final barbs at Washington’s spendthrift lawmakers.
"Today is an epochal day," he told reporters, "but it brings no joy to the heart of the taxpayer." Hartley worked up quickly into a bluster, the newspaper drudges scribbling wildly. "May the new building be a deterrent, rather than an incentive, to future extravagance on the part of those in whose hands the business affairs of the state are entrusted." (From HistoryLink.org)
|Look at that railing glow!|
I'm sure today that citizens are glad the money was spent. The interior corridors are composed of gray marble from Alaska, and the hallway railings were quite unique with the state seal featuring George Washington featured.
And here's a side-on view of the largest chandelier ever made by Tiffany hanging in the rotunda. It came by train in pieces and was assembled in the Capitol. It has to be seen, photographs just don't do it justice.
All lamps and Roman fire pots in the rotunda were made by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of Tiffany and Company. The Capitol has the largest collection of Tiffany bronze in the world and it was Tiffany’s last large commission before his death in 1933.
|Hallways were filled with lobbyists since Senate and House were in session|
Here's a picture of those Tiffany fire pots I mentioned. They replicate ancient Roman signal lights used to call the first Senate into session more than 2,000 years ago.
Here is another Tiffany chandelier, just couldn't get enough of those!
The railings weren't the only thing featuring the state seal, the doorknobs had it also.
The Reception Room was stunning. Greek and Roman inspired patterns were everywhere, and the light coming in through the skylight was nice.
More chandeliers and wall sconces from Tiffany, these made from Czechoslovakian glass.
I don't know the story on the lanterns hanging outside, but I got an interesting shot showing how they are suspended from my vantage point inside the Reception Room.
The Bresche violet marble in this room is from Italy, and you could probably spend quite a bit of time searching out patterns. The floor is covered in the world's largest single loom carpet, and the piano was donated. It is from Leipzig, Germany and was built in the late 1800's. Guests may play it, but no one on my tour volunteered unfortunately.
Which Capitol next? Hmmm, who knows?