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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Kentucky State Capitol

On Monday I got a late start and just pulled in to Prophetstown State Park in Indiana to sleep for a four hours and then hit the road again hours before dawn to make up some time.  When I started getting sleepy around Louisville I knew a stop was in order.

back of building

I don't know what it is about Frankfort, but I love stopping in that little capital town!  I still hadn't visited the new Capitol building so that is what I did.  And even though fall color is mostly over in Kentucky there were a few colorful spots left.

There was some construction going on out in front of the building, but I got close enough to get a shot of  .  The exterior is constructed of Indiana limestone and Vermont granite in the Beaux Arts style which was a bit of a surprise in a building built after the turn of the century.

pediment sculpture

Completed in 1910 it replaced the Old Capitol which I stopped to see on a previous visit but it was closed.  The sculptured pediment of the classical front portico was designed by Charles Henry Niehaus and carved by Australian sculptor Peter Rossack.  Allegorical figures represent Kentucky, the central female figure, with Progress, History, Plenty, Law, Art and Labor as her attendants.

great doorknob at the entrance

There was a tour available, but I knew it would involve a lot of talking and standing and I wanted to get my blood moving to my brain so I just wandered around with my camera and let the space speak to me.

statue of Lincoln in the Rotunda

The interior space surrounding the rotunda is largely white Georgia marble and gray Tennessee marble.  On axis with the rotunda, the grand corridors feature 36 imposing columns of Vermont granite and delicate art glass skylights.

Decorative lunettes above each staircase highlight the entrances to the House and Senate chambers.  Painted in oils by T. Gilbert White, both depict frontier scenes with Daniel Boone.  The east mural portrays Boone and his party catching their first glimpse of the Bluegrass region atop Pilot Knob in 1769.  The west mural depicts the negotiations for the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals, which lead to the purchase of Cherokee land that would eventually become Kentucky.

The State Reception Room was nice, I especially enjoyed the ceiling fixtures.

State Reception Room

But of course it was the murals in the pendentives that really caught my eye.  I didn't even notice the bas-relief under each one that represents early Native American aspects of the same ideals until I looked at my images.

"The Bounty of the Land" - racing, livestock farming, and tobacco featured
Native American women preparing corn in bas-relief

When the Capitol was constructed the space was provided for the murals, but they were actually not completed until 2010 as part of celebrating the Capitol's Centennial.

"The Light of Progress" - Athena's torch symbolizes enlightenment and hope
Native American men hunting buffalo on the Buffalo Trace

"The Strength of Commerce"
Native Americans using fire

The Culture mural features two places I've visited: Henry Clay's estate on the lower right and Natural Bridge on the upper right.

"The Fruits of Knowledge" 

While not as ornate as Wisconsin's state Capitol, it was a beautiful building with many special details.

 I also loved the streetlights lining the road leading up to the Capitol.

And the yellow leaves made a great backdrop for one of the many iron fences in the area.

Looks like a Ginkgo leaf to me?  Can anyone confirm?


  1. Well I can honestly say that is some great photography you did inside

  2. Nice building and nice pix! And yes, that's a gingko leaf -neat shape, eh?

  3. That's a lovely capitol building and your pictures really show it off. Beautiful golds behind the street lamp and the iron fences. Both are really attractive, so much better than the modern fences or street lights. Be careful of ginko trees, the fruits smell like dog doo.