While in South Dakota for the LWMS Convention, we decided to check out the state capitol building in Pierre. It is a wonderful capitol and I really liked all the marble. The capitol features a copper dome, Corinthian columns, rusticated walls of granite and Bedford limestone, and a decorative interior with English and Italian Renaissance features. It was constructed between 1905 and 1910. The plans for the building were designed by the Minneapolis architectural office of C.E. Bell and M.S. Detwiler, who gave the building similar features to the Montana State Capitol in Helena, Montana. The planning and construction cost was almost $1,000,000. I have to say, it was well worth it. Allegedly, the floor was laid by 66 Italian artists, and is made of terrazzo tile. However, the thing that impressed me the most was the marble staircase. I love marble and it caught my attention as soon as we walked in the door. I also thought it was interesting that miniature replicas have been made of the gown worn by each first lady to the state inaugural ball. These replicas are worn by dolls in a display case, along with a picture of each governor's family. On the second floor, the marble staircase leads into a rotunda. The dome of the rotunda is 96 feet high. The bottom ring is designed to resemble a string of ribbons joined together, which is meant to symbolize the eternal nature of government. The interior of the dome is decorated with sixteen images of the Tree of Life. The dome also displays acanthus leaves to represent wisdom and a pasque flower, which is the state flower. The third floor houses the state's House of Representatives and the state's Senate. The galleries for both, from which the public can observe the legislative process, are located on the fourth floor. Out in front of the Pierre Capitol is a rotunda flanked by the legislative wings, making it somewhat similar to the nation’s capitol. It is also the home of Capitol Lake, a manmade artesian lake constructed in 1913. Also on the grounds are four memorials. The Fighting Stallions Memorial is a sculpture built to honor the eight South Dakota residents, including Governor George S. Mickelson, who died in an airplane crash on April 19, 1993. The Flaming Fountain Memorial is a fountain with a perpetually burning natural gas flame. It was installed to honor South Dakotan veterans. The Law Enforcement Officer Memorial pays tribute to police officers who have died in the line of duty. Six bronze figures on a peninsula in the Capitol Lake comprise the World War II Memorial; each represents one of the branches of service in which South Dakota residents served during World War II. We were just traveling through Pierre (which we learned was pronounced PEER), on our way to Rapid CIty, but very glad we did. It was a lovely day to explore the capitol and the lake near it. The memorials were amazing and very well done. Definitely worth checking out when you are in the area.

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Page last updated July 2015