Colorado State Capitol Virtual Tour
The building is of the Corinthian order of classic architecture; a style admirably to public buildings of like character and magnitude.
The Corinthian order of architecture is unquestionably the most graceful production which the genius of Greek architects and builders ever evolved. It is simple, yet graceful, naturally suggesting solidity and permanence. It offers unrivaled facilities for light, and in all the varied requisites for a public building, it excels the numerous styles of architecture which have been devised in modern times; but which, for public edifices, are complete failures, and which will sustain no comparison with the architecture of those magnificent buildings of the past, the remains of which, in Greece and Rome, still excite the wonder and admiration of mankind.
The great temples of the most advanced nations of antiquity - Egypt, Greece and Rome - the edifices where the citizens were accustomed to meet for deliberations concerning their national affairs - the halls where justice was administered - the palaces, blazing with the splendors of royalty, and adorned with the most famous productions of the sculptor's and painter's art - all these were built in the classic style of architecture, founded upon one of the three great orders: Doric, Ionic or Corinthian, of which the Corinthian was the latest and most perfect and beautiful. Most of the noted buildings of antiquity have, through neglect or the ravages of war, drifted into ruin, but their fragments, which remain in their silent columns and friezes, suggest the ideas of majesty and permanence.
Had Greece been continuously peopled by a prosperous and flourishing race, the Pantheon might now be viewed as it stood in its grand proportions when first consecrated by the Athenians; and had the same been true of Egypt, the massive wonders of hundred-gated Thebes might still be seen in their grandeur, and the stately, classic temples of Karnak and Luxor. In our advanced American civilization there need be no apprehension that the Capitol Building of Colorado will not stand, a handsome and stately structure, the admiration of future ages.
It seems strange that elements so few, though admiting of a great variety of outline, should be capable of producing these exquisite forms of beauty, which will always be the admiration of the civilized world. Yet, these features - so simple in their nature - require in their treatment the greatest skill to produce a building of true classic grandeur. Simplicity is peculiar to classic architecture, and is its grand characteristic.
The new Capitol will contain a sub-basement, a full basement, a first, second and third stories, constructed entirely of cut stone, with surfaces smoothly dressed for all exterior work above the grade line, and is surmounted by an elegant dome. The entire workmanship of the four fronts and dome is strictly Corinthian, having no unnecessary carving, but ornamented simply by the embellishments demanded by the Corinthian order, which, like its two classic sisters, relies for its grand effects upon correct proportions and properly treated details, rather than elaborate and excessive ornamentation. For beauty and utility combined, no other form of architecture can equal the Corinthian, and the value of this and its kindred orders, the Doric and Ionic, will be readily appreciated when the simple and evident fact is considered, that while all other forms of architecture have, within the past two thousand years, undergone modifications, entire changes and utter annihilation, these recognized models continue to exist, as when first designed, the accepted form for stately public buildings, such as the Capitol Building for a great State, by right, should be.
The style of architecture for a public building should be suited to the building itself, and the purposes for which it is intended to be used. Where laws are to enacted for the government of a great State, public records preserved, and accommodations provided for the executive and judiciary branches of the government, the character of the building should be such as would command respect for these high purposes; and the grotesque and fanciful styles of architecture resorted to so extensivly at the present day, should be carefully shunned, as unbefitting to a structure where dignity of appearence is demanded by its uses.
The building has no useless towers, minarets or turrets, which, while expensive, are of little or no value. They may serve to illustrate or enliven a badly proportioned designed, or lead the eye away from violations of harmony, and thereby prove a momentary attraction to the uncultivated, but can never secure the approbation of the cultured student or connisseur.
In the main pediment is presented an allegorical group of statuary, representing the wealth, progress and substantial interests of the State of Colorado, and the various channels leading to their development.
The important requisite of ventilation to a public building has been fully and intelligently provided for. By use of powerful exhaust fans the foul air is constantly taken from every portion of the building, and forced directly into the smoke shaft. The vacuum thus produced will be at once supplied with an equal amount of fresh air, taken at a point one hundred and eighty feet above the ground, at the corners of the dome wall, where the air is never contaminated with dust or foul vapors. The air thus received by the use of supply fans is forced through the fresh air ducts to every part of the building, and properly warmed by contact with the direct radiators before its admission into the apartments and corridors.
The building is heated by steam, generated by four steel boilers. In the sub-basement are located the boilers, engine, exhaust and supply fans, and ample room for the storage of fuel. The fuel room is reached by an underground passage way from the street, with suitable tracks, so that the coal may be brought into the building by this system, thereby avoiding the nuisance of coal dust, which would result should other methods be adopted. Below the sub-basement floor, are placed all the foul air ducts, the steam supply and return lines, together with the drainage and sewerage of the building.
The basement story has a clear height of fifteen feet, and all of the apartments are well lighted. It contains rooms for the Adjutant General, State Geologist and mineral cabinet, Commissioner and Inspector of Mines, Horticultural and Historical Societies, storage and vault rooms for Secretary of State, janitor and engineer's living rooms, wash rooms and water closets.
On the first floor are the apartments of the Governor, Attorney-General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Railroad Commissioner, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner and State Engineer. All the offices are provided with fire-proof vaults, and wardrobe accommodations for most of them. The offices have been arranged and located with special reference to their business connections with each other, and the convenience not only of the officers who will occupy them, but of those who will have public business transactions therein. The story has a clear height of twenty-one feet, spacious and well lighted corridors, extending the entire length and breadth of the building, and crossing at the spacious rotunda in the center.
Upon the second floor are located the Legislative halls, the Supreme Court room, consultation and private rooms of the Judges, the State Library, Librarian's apartments, Legislative postoffice, and rooms for Legislative officers. The Legislative halls and State Library occupy the height of the second and third stories, as more fully described below. The Represenative hall occupies the west front, being sixty-three feet in length by fifty-two in width, and having a height of fourty-two feet. Connected with it are the rooms of the Speaker and Clerk, lobbies, and appropriate cloak and toilet rooms. Private stairs lead from the consultation rooms to the galleries, which are on the line of the third story floor. The ceiling of the hall is coffered and paneled, and the walls surrounding the room have fluted pilasters with Ionic caps on the floor line, and the same with Corinthian caps on the line of the gallery, with stucco cornices on each line of caps. The senate Chamber is at the south end of the building, and corresponds in height and character of finish with the Representative hall. It has in connection the rooms required for the officers and committees of the Senate, corresponding with those provided for the House.
The State library - with the Law library adjoining - is located at the east front of the building, also occupying the height of the second and third stories. The State library is sixty-seven feet in length by fifty feet in width; each tier of alcoves being reached by circular iron stairs from the office of the Librarian. The Law library, adjoining the State library, has a length of forty-eight feet and a breadth of thirty-two feet, with two consultation rooms for attorneys adjoining, and forming a direct connection with the Supreme Court Room. The Supreme Court Room is also located upon the second floor, and has adjoining it private and consultation rooms for the judges and offices for the clerk and marshal. Connected with the judges' apartments is a fire-proof vault, for the deposit of records and other valuable possessions.
The larger portion of the third floor is taken up by the galleries of the principal apartments already described upon the second floor. The remainder of the story is occupied by committee rooms, offices for engrossing and enrolling, which are admirably adapted to the purpose by the superior light afforded; and rooms for storage.
The Rotunda is a magnificent feature of the building, and not only adds greatly to its beauty, but is of great utility also in furnishing an abundance of light to the halls and corridors. It has a diameter of forty-five feet, being open from the basement to the diaphragm of the dome, and having balconies surrounding it on a line with several of the floors. The walls of the rotunda are of a proper finish for fresco ornamentation, and will be suitably decorated, and thereby made more attractive and interesting by representations of the men, the industries and resources of the State, all of which have combined to place Colorado in the foremost rank of the sisterhood of States. In the walls of the Rotunda, on the line of the several balconies, niches and recesses are provided for the reception of appropriate statuary. Promenades are provided around the exterior of the dome, and stairways lead from the attic floor to the lantern, affording to the sight-seer an unequaled view of the surrounding country.
The broad and ample corridors add largely to the interior beauty of the building. Those of the main floor have beautiful tile floors. On either side of the rotunda rise the grand stairways, constructed entirely of iron.
The Legislative halls, the Supreme Court room, the State and Law libraries and the stairways are all lighted by beautiful stained glass skylights, the portions of the roof directly over these skylights being of heavy hammered glass, so that an abundance of light is admitted in each place where it is required. The dome also has beautiful windows of stained glass.
The building, when entirely completed, will be the finest in the State of Colorado, and one of the finest Capitol buildings in the country, of which every citizen of the State may be justly proud.
The cost of the building will be one million dollars, this limit of expenditure having been prescribed by the Legislature.
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last modified June 19, 2003