Looking over Michigan’s Capitol

Michigan State Capitol Building by Joel Stevens

Michigan State Capitol Building by Joel Steven

Michigan’s current state capitol building is actually our third. Michigan’s Three Capitols explains:

In January 1872, a plan (called “Tuebor,” meaning, “I will defend”) submitted by architect Elijah E. Myers of Springfield, Illinois, was selected. Myers moved to Michigan to supervise construction and lived for the rest of his life in his adopted state.

Construction began in 1872. When the cornerstone of the eagerly-awaited building was laid on October 2, 1873, a ceremony was held which rivaled anything Lansing had seen since becoming the capital a quarter of a century earlier. People thronged to the city in numbers far exceeding its capacity. Private citizens opened their homes and made preparations to feed and shelter the visitors.

Materials for the building came from all over the country and even from abroad. Although the millions of bricks that make up its walls and ceilings were locally made in Lansing, the stone facade came from Ohio, the cast iron for the dome and floor beams from Pennsylvania, and the marble and limestone floors from Vermont. The Board of Commissioners made sure the best materials were selected for the best price—wherever they could be found. The final cost totaled $1,427,738.78, considered modest for the construction of a state capitol during this period.

Read on for much more!

Joel took this close up panorama of the Michigan State Capitol building on June 19th. Check out more of his work on Flickr and for sure follow Joel Steven Photography on Facebook!

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Muse Monday: The Muses of Michigan’s Capitol Dome

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Offset, photo by DetroitDerek Photography

A highlight of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing are the eight muses that ring the Capitol dome. During the latest restoration, it was learned that they were painted in the late 19th century by Italian artist Tommaso Juglaris. Michigan’s Otherside relates the story of the Mysterious Painter of the Michigan State Capital Muses:

The paintings are absolutely gorgeous, and for years, historians believed they might have been the work of Lewis Ives, an artist who has other pieces in the Capitol. Then, in 1992, a visitor named Geoffrey Drutchas entered the building, looking for works by a nineteenth-century Italian artist. Drutchas’ inquiry led to an investigation that ultimately revealed the paintings’ true creator. But more on that later; first, a quick background on how the muses became a part of the Capitol in the first place.

The current state Capitol opened in 1879. For the first few years of its existence, the Capitol’s walls were bare, as the state couldn’t spare any money for artwork. Eventually, the state had extra cash, so the legislature commissioned William Wright, owner of a Detroit decorating company, to handle interior design duties. The Capitol’s architect, Elijah Myers, said that he wanted allegorical paintings (in other words, paintings whose subjects look like one thing, but represent something else) to appear above the Capitol rotunda. That’s how the Capitol ended up with its muses. At first glance, the women in the paintings that Wright delivered to the Capitol are simply figures from Greek mythology; however, if a viewer looks at the paintings closely, he or she finds that each muse holds or is surrounded by items that represent a specific aspect of Michigan’s economy and culture.

Read on for more, and also see State Capital historian Kerry Chartkoff’s lecture on Michigan’s Capitol: Muses, Memoirs at Michigan State University.

View Derek’s photo bigger and see more in his Cities other than Detroit slideshow.

 

 

Political Reflections

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Political Reflections, photo by Matt Kazmierski

Whatever we feel about the outcome of this election, I think we can all agree that it’s nice to not have politics in our face for a few minutes.

View Matt’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.