As I said in my previous post, the Iowa Capitol Building is one of my favorite of all the capitols we've seen. I have to say the same for the interior. The building was completed in 1886 at a cost of $2.9 million, a huge amount (according to this site, it would be $71.6 million today).
As in most capitols, the dominant feature is the dome that rises 275 feet above the rotunda. It measures 80 feet across and is decorated with 23 karat gold.
Directly beneath the dome is a round glass floor. The original building had a glass floor like this that was removed in the early 1900s and railings were placed around the open circle. The glass floor was reinstalled in 2011.
Delegates to Iowa Boys State were touring the capitol while we were there. You'll notice them in their white shirts in many of my photos.
There are 29 different types of marble used in the building. The walls and ceilings are rich with color and elegant patterns:
There are spectacular glass ceilings in several different places:
An enormous mural entitled Westward (Edwin H. Blashfield, 1905) covers the wall at the top of one of the staircases. The pioneers are led by four angels: the Spirits of Enlightenment (holding a book), Civilization (sowing grain), Steam (holding a steam engine), and Electricity (holding an electric generator--not what I think of when I think of angels):
I love this romantic, idealized style of painting. It reminds me a lot of Blashfield's contemporary, Minerva Teichert.
However, the best feature of the capitol was not the ceilings or the walls or even the painting, but the floor.
Tiled floor sections were laid out like rugs on display in a Persian carpet shop:
Sections looked like intricate quilt patterns:
I would go back just to admire these floors again. They are amazing.
However, I couldn't just take pictures of the floor all day, so we moved on to the House of Representatives:
. . . and the Supreme Court (love the carpet):. . . and the Senate Chamber:
Yeah, I think it would be great to work in this beautiful place. All I have to do is move to Iowa and get elected, right?
AND THEN WE SAW THE LIBRARY. I've never wanted to be a librarian so much in my life. The Iowa Capitol Library could be a Harry Potter movie set:
The lighting was problematic and my pictures just don't do it justice. Trust me--it is breathtaking.
View from above:
How about that circular staircase? Wow. One thing these 19th century buildings have that we don't see in our modern buildings is a plethora of staircases. There is an elevator too, but I'm guessing it was installed later on. In addition to those incredible staircases in the library, these were my favorites:
I've seen lots of circular staircases, but oval staircases are rare (although I noticed one in an episode of Downtown Abbey):
In addition to the floors and the library, my other favorite thing was this mosaic mural above the landing of one of those many staircases.
The detail is incredible--nuances of expression, muscle, movement, and shadow created by little tiles:
Other pieces of art are hung around the building:
On our way out we stopped to admire this model of the U.S.S. Iowa, on loan from the U.S. Department of the Navy:
TripAdvisor rates the capitol building as #1 out of 52 things to see in Des Moines. We couldn't agree more. Even if you don't get particularly excited by state capitols, this is one to visit.