A Capitol day
Whenever we are in a state capital, we like to visit the capitol. Here in Madison, the Capitol stands high above the surroundings and dominates the city centre and we looked forward to taking a look inside.
The first tour was at 10am so after breakfast we walked the few blocks from our hotel and found the step-free entrance. The Capitol is built around a central lobby and has four wings aligned to the compass points and is set in a square of lawn in the centre of the city. In the old days, Capitol Square was a bustling, busy commercial place but now it’s set amongst bank, insurance companies and suchlike and the area bustles no longer, except for the office workers of course.
Inside, it’s as grand as any capitol we’ve seen. Walls and floors of different colours and varieties of marble, each one sourced from a different part of the world and costing a fortune.
Standing in the central lobby, high above our heads was the dome with the central painting of Wisconsin and her handmaidens.
A little lower down, on each of the four sides there’s a richly coloured mosaic depicting Liberty..
and Justice. They set the tone for the whole place, being very much in the style of the early 1900s – and very much to my taste, too.
We began the tour in the Governor’s Meeting Room. Well, I’m not sure how frequently the Governor holds meetings in this room but if I were he, I’d take every opportunity. Beautiful paintings on every wall and the ceiling too, again in the style of the early 1900s.
I really liked this painting, which hangs behind the Governor’s chair. Sadly, all of them are dark and the light wasn’t so good either – not the best for photography. But there’s a website with, hopefully, better images.
Leaving the Governor’s meeting room, we passed the bronze of the State Animal – the Badger with the very shiny nose, resulting from the custom of rubbing it for good luck.
Our tour continued through meeting rooms, lavishly built of marble and with stunning frescoes just beneath the ceiling. I especially liked this one which was so much of its time, depicting steamships, the railroad, early motor cars and very faintly in the sky, one of the new fangled flying machines.
I liked this small vignette too. There’s so much Native American heritage here, most obviously for us in the form of the place names.
Who should we come across next but Chief OshKosh on trial for murder, illustrating an incident in the state history, recorded in a painting high up there on the wall of the Supreme Court.
The tour continued through both houses before returning to the central hall, giving us a chance to take a few more photographs and to try to find the step free exit – hopefully in a direction which would lead us to a coffee shop!
Ta Dah!! The bonus was it happened to be Cafe Colectivo, the same brand as we’d enjoyed at the Mud Creek Cafe the other day. Mmmm.
A short walk away was the Wisconsin History Museum, where we learned a little more about the State and became a little more aware of the wider landscape, particularly up north by the canadian border. Brrrrr!
We also learned a little more about what’s made in Wisconsin. Bicycles! Also, there’s paper packaging, beer and Harley Davidson motorbikes. There’s probably many, many other things but there’s one which just keeps coming to the top of the list.
Cows. Well, yes…
Thankfully, just down the street was Fromagination where a cheese sandwich was exactly what we needed for lunch.