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A VISIT TO THE STATE CAPITOL OF NORTH DAKOTA AT BISMARCK

It is called 'The Skyscraper in the Prairie'

sunny 62 °F

(Tuesday) The site for the town of Bismarck was chosen for its relative central location in the Dakota territory by the railroad barons of the time. Recalling the time, the trans-continental railroad construction was underway and the Railroad Barons were seeking venture capitol. They chose Bismarck as a name for the 'whistle-stop' to appeal to the investment community both in Germany and among the American immigrants of German heritage. The Chancellor of Germany at the time was --Otto von Bismarck!! The strategy worked and the rest is history.

Like most states that I have visited, the first Capitol building burned down. Erected in 1883 as the territorial capitol the building lasted until the fire in 1930. It was then during the Great Depression that the new Capitol building was begun under strict financial constraints. Builders sought a style that would be efficient both in space and operation, thus the idea of a skyscraper. In an Art Deco style of the times it rises 19 stories and the tower stands 241' tall. It is one of four state capitols which are towers (FL, LA, NE, ND). Its exterior is of Indiana limestone and Wisconsin black granite at the base. Inside, the ground floor has ribbed marble pillars, Art Deco style. The walls are of Yellowstone travertine marble and the stairwell is covered in Belgian black marble. In the First Floor Memorial Hall, hanging from the 40' ceilings are bronze chandeliers representing a head of wheat. Each fixture weighs 1,000 lbs.
At the west end of the Memorial Hall are the Legislative chambers with the Legislative Hall designed as a meeting place for the Senators & Representatives, 47 and 94, respectively. Both legislative bodies meet every other year for 80 days or about 4 months. At that time the bi-annual budget is decided upon. North Dakota is one of the few states which operate in the black.
Curly maple and East Indian rosewood cover the walls of the Memorial Hall to the 40' ceiling. In the House the members' desks are of American walnut, and the walls are of American chestnut. The Senate chamber's front wall is of quarter-sawn English oak, the desks are of American oak. The beautiful woods used in the various rooms give a warm, pleasing contrast to the stone materials used in the decor.
The Judicial Wing Atrium displays the same Indiana limestone and Wisconsin black granite as the building's exterior and has a 60' ceiling. The Supreme Court has 5 justices, 4 men, 1 woman, and hold an average 300 hearings during their 10 month sessions. On the 18th floor there is an Observation Deck which, on a clear day, one can see up to 35 miles away in all directions. It was clear today and I could see the prairie in every direction. Pretty amazing.

In the Memorial Hall on the First Floor there are portraits of notable North Dakota citizens who were awarded the "Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award". Among the 42 people noted some are familiar to me. They are; Lawrence Welk (musician), Roger Maris (baseball star), Eric Sevaried (journalist), Louis L'Amour (author), Peggy Lee (entertainer), Elizabeth Bodine (humanitarian & mother of 18 children, 16 of whom are college graduates), Phil Jackson (basketball star), Angie Dickinson (actress), Warren Christopher (public service, former Secty of State), Bobby Vee (entertainer), Ronald D. Offutt (Agribusiness leader, farms 190,000 acres of potatoes), and notable persons among them are 4 military Generals and/or Admirals, and the US military's most highly decorated Enlisted Master Sergeant. Pretty impressive and indicative of the work ethic taught while growing up in this agricultural community.

After that lofty experience I sought out a laundromat to do some basic chores.

Tomorrow its on to Pierre, South Dakota about a 4 hour drive.

Posted by dixter 14:29 Archived in USA Tagged the at state visit capitol bismarck

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