Day Four’s self-guided morning tour of the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol would continue inside. We’ve photographed domes in other capitals — Harrisburg, Charleston, Denver, Madison, Hartford (barely), our own in Indianapolis, et al. — but we usually admire them from a distance, on the assumption that the interiors might resemble ordinary cubicles or BMV offices. No one wants to risk seeing that and ruining the patriotic mystique.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.
Construction of the Minnesota State Capitol, including its marble dome modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica, was largely completed in 1905, and was apparently version 3.0, after the first version burnt down and the second was judged inadequate.
Standing guard over the south entrance is “The Progress of the State”, a sculpture that was completed and added in 1906. Two months after our visit it was removed for a few months’ worth of repair work. What you see here, then, would be among the last photos taken during its last stages of decrepitude. We couldn’t see anything wrong from below, but it’s not as though we were allowed onto its deck to examine it up close or to ride on the horsies.
We availed ourselves of a free guided tour, but with an unexpected complication. Several parts of the building were closed as part of a comprehensive three-year renovation project. We saw many blank walls and “DO NOT ENTER” signs, and we never saw the interior of the dome itself. What we were allowed to see was more than worth the price of admission.
Like, say, French marble stairs.
Even the hallway ceilings had their own innate fanciness.
We were permitted into the upper gallery of each of the state congressional chambers. This was our view of the Minnesota Senate chambers, where their strict dress code didn’t even allow women’s pants until 1994…
…and our view of the Minnesota House chambers. Minnesota was granted statehood in 1858, so their first Presidential election in 1860 was a pretty big deal, as commemorated by the painting of its famous winner given prominence in the room
A closeup of the sculpture on the other side magnifies the message: “The trail of the pioneer bore the footprints of liberty.”
As we exited the Capitol after our tour, downtown St. Paul was visible on our left, several blocks away. We figured why not, and headed off in that direction on foot.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]