Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Touring Between the Storms

Mayetta, KS

We've had storms which have included rain, heavy rain, wind, strong winds, tornado watches, tornado warnings, and now flood watches and warnings throughout most of the week.  Luckily, our immediate area (about 20 miles north of Topeka) has been spared from most of the severe weather.

West Wing Entrance
Yesterday we decided it was time to get out and do some exploring.  Since Topeka is the capitol city of Kansas (tell the truth, how many of you actuallly knew that) we decided to take a short drive to the Capitol Building and take a tour of the building itself. Unfortunately, the building has been undergoing a major renovation since 2010 and the exterior will not be completed for about another year.  The interior is almost totally complete, so we took a personal guided tour. (We were literally the only two in the group.) 

(Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society)
The first cornerstone of the east wing was laid in 1866 and the the entire building was completed 37 years later in 1903.  The total cost of the construction was $3.2 million. In 2002 a final artwork piece ad astra was fitted to the very top of the exterior dome of the capitol building. The work depicts a Kaw warrior pulling a bow toward the North Star.  The entire height of the building from ground to the very top of the artwork now stretches to 306 feet, or 17 feet higher than the Capitol in Washington, DC.

The interior of the building is beautiful.  There's heavy use of marble from many countries on the walls and floors throughout. 
The center glass dome is the focal point, however.  The dome is really a glass dome within a copper dome.  The inner glass portion contains 256 panes (mostly original) surrounded by copper.  The inner glass dome and outer copper dome are separated to allow natural light to fill the interior.

The Senate portion of the Capitol (the East Wing) was preserved to reflect a more original look of the early years. The chandeliers were originally all gas lit and lowered and raised by pulleys for cleaning and repairs.

The House of Representatives side is located in the West Wing and is larger (more delegates) and a bit more modern looking.

The Governor of Kansas was unavailable for our "drop in" visit, but we were able to have a picture of us taken by our tour guide at the Governor's "public" desk.  The Bison skin on the desk was a gift from one of the local American Indian tribes to the Governor.

After the Capitol Building tour we traveled a few blocks south to a National Historical Site administered by the National Park Service named "Brown vs. Board of Education."
 According to "In 1951, a class action suit was filed against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. The plaintiffs were thirteen Topeka parents on behalf of their twenty children.
The suit called for the school district to reverse its policy of racial segregation. Separate elementary schools were operated by the Topeka Board of Education under an 1879 Kansas law, which permitted (but did not require) districts to maintain separate elementary school facilities for black and white students in twelve communities with populations over 15,000."
The larger impact of this occurred in 1954 when the US Supreme Court voted 9-0 in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional.

Monroe Elementary School today
This historic site does an excellent job of detailing the struggles of those who were unjustly
discriminated against throughout the years via the use of film, displays, photographs, and other physical displays.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!


  1. Oh boy,,, a Bison skin on a government officials desk,,,, do I see the next scandal in the works.
    Very cool building.

  2. I really enjoyed the pictures and information of Kansas. I look forward each day to see what you will post. I'm glad you have survived the storms so far. We are supposed to have in the 90s the next few days, I've really been enjoying the 70s that we've been having.

  3. Your pictures of the capitol were amazing. What incredible beauty and workmanship. The inside of the dome is a money shot.

    Karen looks like a natural sitting at the Governor's desk with you as her top advisor. Considering a run in politics?

    Hopefully all that wind you've been experiencing won't affect the Indian on top of the capitol dome and blow off his loincloth... ;c)

    1. Paul,
      You've been sitting in one place for too long. Get that health stuff taken care of and start moving around again.