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Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Assembly Chamber

The Assembly Chamber features New York and Italian marble, Wisconsin oak furniture, a thirty-foot skylight and an Edwin Blashfield mural symbolizing Wisconsin's past, present and future. There are 99 Representatives of the Assembly, each elected to a two-year term.  Traditionally the Republican members sit on the side of the room by the windows, the Democrats sit on the side by the doors and the Speaker of the Assembly sits at the desk at the front of the room.

The Assembly meets in this room to debate and vote on bills just as the Senate does.  Wisconsin had the first electric voting machine in the world, which was installed in the Assembly Chamber in 1917.  The system has been upgraded several times since then.  The members vote by pushing buttons on their desks that turn on red or green lights by each representative’s name on the voting board.  The vote is counted electronically and the result is ready in seconds.

The original furnishings in this room are made of Wisconsin oak, the walls are South Dover marble from New York, the doors are covered in Spanish leather and the columns are Italian Breche Violette.

 The skylight in this room is the largest of the four skylights in the Capitol.

The "Wisconsin" mural was painted by Edwin Blashfield at a cost of $15,000.  It illustrates the past, present and future of our state.  The woman seated on the rock is Wisconsin; she is surrounded by three women representing the bodies of water bordering our state: the Mississippi River, Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan.  The woman in the green robe symbolizes the present.  The people in the foreground are farmers, loggers, miners and families as they appeared in the early 1900's when this painting was completed.  Wisconsin's past is illustrated by the Native Americans and Civil War soldiers on the right.  In the far left corner you see Conservation pointing to the tree asking Future to preserve Wisconsin's natural resources.  On the rock by the soldier with the United States flag, you see our state animal, the badger.  There was a "hidden" soldier in the painting whose ghost image was uncovered when they did a restoration.  We had to move around and look hard but eventually I saw the outline of his hat.  If you visit maybe you'll see him better than I did.

The eagle on the ledge in front of the mural is Old Abe, named after President Abraham Lincoln.  Old Abe was a mascot during the Civil War to the 8th Infantry Regiment from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  After the war was over, Old Abe returned to Wisconsin where he lived in the basement of the Capitol.  Old Abe died in 1881 and his body was mounted and displayed in the second Madison Capitol.  The original Old Abe was lost when that building burned in 1904.  This eagle is a replica of Old Abe they display to honor him.

One more post on the Capitol and I'm done, I swear!  I was so impressed with our tour that I'm really looking forward to a day trip to Carson City while in Reno to check out their Capitol building.  Wonder if there are any art deco Capitol buildings across the country?  I was catching up on episodes of the Michael J Fox show and they made a reference to the art deco doors of New York walk.  Hmmm......


  1. What an opulent and wonderful building, thanks for showing us round

  2. beautiful interior; it is always fascinating to see how elaborate the craftsmanship; thanks for the tour Pam