July 27, 2022
The Rhode Island State House was designed by the New York firm of McKim, Mead and White in the American Renaissance style of architecture.
The State House was constructed of white Georgia marble between 1895 and 1904.
The dome is the fourth largest marble dome in the world after St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City; the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota; and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
“Independent Man” on the top of the dome was created by George Brewster. The sculpture holds a spear in one hand and rests the other hand on an anchor.
A quote from Rhode Island’s Royal Charter is over the southern entrance: To hold forth a lively experiment that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained with full liberty in religious concernments.
Broad view of the rotunda
The medallions in the four corners of the dome’s support structure represent Education, Justice, Literature, and Commerce.
The Latin inscription at the base of the dome is by Roman historian Tacitus and translates “Rare felicity of the times when it is permitted to think what you like and say what you think”.
A mural 100 feet from the floor portrays scenes from Rhode Island’s history: Narragansett natives, Colonial founder Roger Williams, origins of religious freedom, and leadership in industrial revolution.
Mural detail of Narragansett chiefs Canonicus and Miantonomi meeting Roger Williams.
The state seal and flags under the rotunda. The State Reception Room (part of the governor’s office) is through the open door on the second floor.
Arch under the rotunda
Light fixture in the rotunda
Staircase leading from the rotunda
The House has 75 members.
Walls in the House Chamber
The Senate has 38 members.
The design of the Senate was influenced by the Pantheon in Rome.
Seals of the original 13 states decorate the archway above the rostrum.
The State Reception Room is the most ornate room in the State House.
Gilded ceiling in the State Reception Room
Crystal chandelier in the State Reception Room
Dave and Jane in the State Reception Room.
This portrait of George Washington was completed by Gilbert Stuart in 1802. Stuart was from Rhode Island.
State Library. The ceiling is designed to look like a leather-bound book.
Collections in the State Library date to 1750.
The State Library features iron catwalks and staircases.
Circles on the ceiling of the State Library are European printers’ marks from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries.
Printer’s mark on the ceiling of the State Library
This miniature flag went to the moon in 1969. Its case also houses a few moon rocks.
Elevator doors in the Rhode Island State House feature the State Seal.
A cannon from the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg is on display in the entry of the State House. The cannon was damaged by incoming fire and a cannonball became stuck in the barrel.
We were assured that the gunpowder has been removed from the cannon ball lodged in the Gettysburg Cannon.
A museum on the first floor of the Rhode Island State House contains the Royal Charter of 1663 which was granted to Rhode Island by King Charles II and guaranteed Rhode Island settlers freedom of religion and the right to select their own leaders.
In 2020 Rhode Islanders voted to remove “and Providence Plantations” from the State Seal.