Hartford, Connecticut: Landmarks~History~Neighborhoods | Downtown:State Capitol Building.
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The Connecticut state capitol building dominates a high point of ground overlooking Bushnell Park – property on which once stood Washington College (now Trinity College). When Hartford won out over New Haven as the seat of state government (a title that had vacillated between the two towns since 1701), a commission was established to secure a site and select an architect to design a monumental structure that would symbolize the wealth and power of the state and its ties to its European cultural past.

Designed by Richard Michell Upjohn in 1874, the Gothic and Romanesque revival structure serves as both monument and seat of state government. The original design submitted in a competition for the structure called for a Modern Secular Gothic brick building with a clock tower, in keeping with not only the $900,000 budget allotted for the structure, but for the popular English public architecture of the day. The clock tower concept met with resistance by the Board of Capitol Commissioners, who preferred a dome to a tower. The budget to build the capitol was increased to $2.5 million and Upjohn redesigned the structure in the High Victorian Gothic style to accommodate the wishes of the commission.

The exterior is of marble from East Canaan, Connecticut and granite from Westerly, Rhode Island. Interior floors are inlaid with white marble and red slate from Connecticut and colored marble from Italy. The stenciling, stained glass windows and light fixtures were designed by William J. McPherson of Boston. Atop the gold leaf dome originally stood the Genius of Connecticut, a 17' 10" tall figure of a woman holding a wreath of Mountain Laurel (state flower of Connecticut) in her left hand and a wreath of white oak leaves adorns her head. The outstretched wings symbolize protection of the people of Connecticut. Weighing 6,000 lbs, the statue was cast of bronze in Munich and sat atop the dome until 1938 when the great hurricane of '38 struck and the statue was damaged. Many feared that she would topple to the ground and a debate ensued as to whether or not she should be taken down.

The State capitol building originally contained not only the senate, house and offices for legislative committees and commissions, but the State Supreme Court and State Library as well. A three-story granite building stood in the rear of the State Capitol building that contained the post office, U.S. courthouse and Customs.

The building came close to being a victim of urban renewal in the 1960s. It had fallen into a state of disrepair. Plans were drawn up for a huge rectilinear government center which would necessitate demolishing the capitol building. Due to lack of funding the ambitious construction project never made it off the drawing board.

Today, it houses the executive offices and legislative chambers of the state, as well as historical memorabilia. Admired as a significant piece of architecture, the capitol was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1971.

Statuary, monuments and plaques have an abundant presence in the building, on its exterior and on the grounds of the state capitol.

The capitol dome although not open to the public, affords a panoramic view of the landscape and views from here have been made for over one hundred years. Tours are given of the capitol building itself from Monday through Friday. Check their website for more information.

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Photo ©2011 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved.

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State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2004 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved. State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2011 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved. State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2012 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved. State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2011 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved.
State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2012 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved. State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2012 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved. State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2012 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved. State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2012 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved.
State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2012 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved. State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2012 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved. State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2012 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved. State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut ©2012 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved.

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