Kansas State Capitol

Trip Start May 06, 2010
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Trip End Oct 14, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Missouri
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I went to the Kansas State Capitol In Topeka today.  Like most state capitols, it's a neo-classical building with a large dome modeled on the US Capitol.  The dome of the Kansas State Capitol isn't as big around as the dome of the US Capitol but it's 16 feet taller.

They had a sizable group scheduled for a tour.  The group was going to have to be split and would require two guides, which meant that the next regularly scheduled tour would be have to be canceled, so they suggested I go with the group.  I did.  They were far worse than the elementary class groups I've toured with.  Every time we went into a new room they all had to run around taking pictures of each other.  It seemed like everyone had to take their turn posing in the Speakers chairs in the House and Senate and the judges chairs in the Old Supreme Court.  They had four or five kids in strollers who seemed to be constantly crying and nothing seemed safe from being banged into by a stroller.  Their fingers seemed drawn to everything that would tarnish from the oil from their skin.

The capitol originally contained the Governor's Office, the House and Senate and the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court moved out in 1978.  The room is now used for committee meetings.

The building is currently undergoing renovations.  Renovations of the House, Senate and Old Supreme Court have been completed.  The House and Senate are very ornate and look quite good with a lot of nice marble, brass chandeliers and copper columns.  Like most House and Senate rooms they have electronic displays for voting results.  And also like most House and Senate rooms they do not have a display for showing PowerPoint presentations.  I don't understand how politicians can do so much talking without showing any pictures. 

The Old Supreme Court is not nearly as ornate but was still nice.  Some of the hallways and stairways have been completed and also look quite good.  The railings on many of the stairways have copper balustrades and brass handrails.  I'm told that before the renovation they looked terrible but they look great now.

They've kept one odd old feature of the building: they still have one cage elevator that requires a lift operator.  The elevator was originally installed in 1923.  The Legislature decided that it had historic value and that it would be maintained in operating condition.  Riding the cage elevator was part of the tour.  It's hard to imagine that all elevators used to be that way.  They also have three modern elevators.

Due to the renovation work the rotunda is blocked off by temporary walls.  There were a couple windows where you can peek in and see a little of it but that was it.  You also can't go up to the top of the dome.  That was a real disappointment.  The outside is also being renovated so there was a crane, scaffolding and lots of construction fences and other barriers making it impossible to get a good picture.

After touring the capitol I drove to Jefferson City, Missouri where I'll tour another state capitol tomorrow.
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