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The incredible interior of the dome at the Kansas State House. I love photos of elaborately decorated ceilings, but they're a real challenge. Not all of it is visible from the ground floor, directly below. I had to take this from the side, so it's slightly off-center, which I'm not crazy about, but this one was just too impressive not to attempt.

This incredible structure, designed by John G. Haskell, is located on 20 acres in the heart of the capital, Topeka. The land was donated by the president of the Topeka Town Company, also a founder of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. The cornerstone was laid on Oct. 17, 1866. Officials wanted to keep it local, finding building materials from Kansas whenever possible. A source of limestone was first identified near Manhattan, in Riley County, but as there were no railroads in the area which would allow it to be efficiently quarried, brown stone from a quarry along Deer Creek was used instead. Because it crumbled during a harsh winter, it was removed and harder limestone from Geary County was used, as was stone from Cottonwood Falls for the rest of the structure. Construction on the west and east wings began in 1879, and the north and south wings in 1883. It measures 399 feet north and south and 386 feet east and west; it's 306 from the ground to the top of the dome. The dome is 66.5 feet in diameter at the bottom and 54.5 feet from the copper dome to the cupola floor. The cupola height itself is 23.5 feet. Incredibly, the Kansas State Capitol is 17 feet higher than the US Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

There are many impressive features. There was a concerted effort to make the building fire resistant and to use natural lighting. The windows have cut limestone sills and lintels, and the east and west wings feature arched windows. Curiously, the contractor expressed some disdain for the initial design, stating that he believed that "we have not got far away enough from the old Greek and Egyptian models," but this style is definitely Classical Revival. The design is distinctly American, however: the windows, for example, are adapted from traditional Italian arched windows used in Victorian buildings in the US during that period. A key theme of the artistic works was intended to be "the central and always most memorable and most noble era of Kansas political history, the struggle between slavery and freedom," according to the Topeka Daily Capital. A statue of a Kaw warrior, named Ad Astra (Latin for "To the Stars") was placed atop the dome in 2002, and statues of four other famous Kansans are located on the second floor rotunda. Perhaps the most famous feature is the collection of incredible murals, which were created by several well-known Kansas artists, located throughout the building.

It was finally completed on Mar. 24, 1903, taking 37 years to finish, but some portions were not entirely completed until 1917. The total cost was $3.2 million, an impressive sum at that time, but it's an impressive structure. Modern restorations were just as much so, however, as a 13-year, $322 million renovation project has made it look like the day it was completed. There are tons of copper, as well as 17 different types of marble, crystal, and granite used throughout, as well as gold leaf paint, making this one of the most beautiful structures in the state. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 80 W: 78 N: 893] (1691)
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