June 29, 2022
North Carolina’s capitol was built between 1833 and 1840 at a cost of $532,682. The original architect was William Nichols, Jr. He was replaced by the New York firm of Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis. Those plans were modified by David Paton.
The building is primarily Greek revival style. It is cross-shaped with a central, domed rotunda. The exterior is made of gneiss quarried in southeast Raleigh and hauled on a horse-drawn railway.
Dave and Jane had very different reactions to this building. One of us thought it felt like a castle; the other thought it was run down and dirty.
The distance from the floor to the crown atop the dome is 97.5 feet.
We would have had to have moved a sculpture of George Washington to take a photo with the top of the dome in the center.
Antonio Canova sculpted George Washington in a Roman general’s uniform with a tunic, body armor and short cape. The original statue burned in 1831. This copy was made in 1970 from Canova’s working model.
Second floor rotunda
Governor’s Reception Room. The official state seal is on the table on the left and is transferred from governor to governor. The room has been restored to its mid-nineteenth century appearance.
The House of Representatives is built in a semi-circle like a Greek theater and follows the Corinthian style of the Tower of the Winds in Athens, Greece. The House is made up of 120 members.
The Senate chambers are fashioned in an Ionic style of Grecian temple. The Senate has 50 members.
Thomas Sully’s portrait of George Washington was the first piece of art purchased by the state of North Carolina.
The Gothic style of the third floor represents a change in architectural tastes that occurred after construction on the Capitol.
Work table in the library. The library has been restored to its 1856-57 appearance.
Bookshelves in the library
The Supreme Court was housed on the third floor until the 1840’s. The room was subsequently used for a State Geologist.
The geologist was appointed in 1852 to survey the entire state and create a record of all the rocks, minerals and natural resources to determine what types of industry the state could best support. This room is restored to its 1858-59 appearance.
Some of the staircases in the capital were made by stonecutters from Scotland. They used a pen-check method of construction in which stairs are carved from solid stone then joined so the weight of each step is directed onto the one below. The weight of the entire staircase is supported by the base step.
To keep fires going for heating, wheelbarrows with iron-rimmed wheels were filled with wood and moved up and down staircases by enslaved laborers.
The heavy wheelbarrows left their marks on the stairs.
Floors in the Capitol are showing their age.
North Carolina has sent three presidents to Washington: James K. Polk, Andrew Jackson, and Andrew Johnson.
The General Assembly (the House and the Senate) moved to the State Legislative Building in 1963.
House of Representatives
Public spaces include garden courts.
Edward Durell Stone was the architect of the State Legislative Building as well as the Museum of Modern Art in new York and the Florida State Capital Complex.
Brass doors at the entrance to each chamber weigh 1500 pounds each.
North Carolina State Seal. Liberty is on the left holding a staff with a freeman’s cap in one hand and the constitution in the other . Plenty is on the right holding a cornucopia. The motto means “To be rather than to seem”.