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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Texas State Capitol Architecture

Boy I kind of jumped ahead with that last post talking about Arkansas because I didn't finish relating our adventures in Texas yet!  While in Austin to visit the LBJ Library and Museum of course we had to scoot on over to the Capitol building.

It is a Renaissance Revival beauty!  A lot of folks were outside on the grounds, many of them catching Pokemon on their phones or just lounging around on benches enjoying the fantastic weather.  Capitol Square has been around since 1839 but this is the second Capitol building that has occupied the space.

The current Capitol building broke ground in 1882 and was finished in February of 1888.   It's a three story beauty made of Sunset Red granite with a zinc Goddess of Liberty statue atop the dome.  Every state has their symbol and in Texas it is all about the Lone Star.  We were seeing stars everywhere, even on the doorknobs!

Standing guard in the entry was a guy with a large a rifle in front of a closed door.  I was too intimated to take a picture of him!  The terrazzo floor commemorates 12 battles fought on Texas soil and the South Foyer also contains life sized statues of Stephen F. Austin and San Houston made by Elizabet Ney in 1903.

Elizabet Ney was German born and studied sculpture in Munich and then Berlin, after of course proving that she could study alongside the men without causing distraction.  In 1857 she set out to persuade the famous philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, to sit for a portrait.  Under Schopenhauer's influence, Ney began "to construct for herself a theory of life, a mixture of idealism, materialism and radicalism held in check by an essential purity of mind." In addition to meeting philosophers, she did work for statesmen, scientists, diplomats and artists, as well as two kings. How did she end up in Texas?  In July 1870, the Franco-Prussian War began and a few months later she discovered she was pregnant.  An invitation to come to idyllic America from a friend came at an opportune time and she and her lover fled leaving all their belongings and her work behind.  They remained in Germany for another 25 years!  They lived in Georgia for two years and then Ney traveled alone (yes alone!) around the country before settling on a plantation in Texas.  Of course her doctor lover had to sign the papers though she was the one who ended up running the plantation.

Hey there's a star again!

Outside on the grounds there was an "inverted rotunda" with yet another star in the center.  Drains are incorporated into the design, how cool is that?

The Senate chamber was still decked out for the holidays, but it was the ceiling that I couldn't keep from staring at.  The original skylights admitted too much heat and they along with the decorative ceiling panels were blocked. The 1990s Restoration installed reproduction acid-etched tempered skylights with a Plexiglas barrier as a safety precaution in case of glass breakage.  Those might be the best ceiling lights I've seen anywhere, don't you agree?

After wandering around we were hungry so we went to El Mercado for a simple Tex-Mex lunch.

It was much better than McDonald's for about the same price.  Though both places had sculptures!

More to come about Arkansas, sorry it's trickling out so slow I've been distracted by my non-traveling life now that I'm home!


  1. Always interesting to visit the different state capitols. I loved seeing Montana's capitol bldg. And Oregon's is! You'll have to google it.