The North Carolina State Capitol was completed in 1840 and is one of the best-preserved examples of a major civic building in the architectural style of Greek revival. The Capitol is a National Historic Landmark. Located at One East Edenton Street in Raleigh offers free admission and self-guided tours Monday through Friday. Guided tours are available on the weekends from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
David Paton, an Edinburgh-born architect, oversaw the architecture of the Capitol building. Most of the architectural details including the moldings, ornamental plasterwork, and the honeysuckle crown atop the dome, were carefully patterned after features of ancient Greek temples. The exterior columns are Doric in nature and modeled after those of the Parthenon. The House of Representatives chamber follows the semi-circular plan of a Greek theater and its architectural ornament is in the Corinthian style of the Tower of Winds. The Senate chamber is decorated in the Ionic style of the Erectheum. The only non-classical areas in the building are two third floor rooms and their vestibules, which were finished in the Gothic style.
Most of the ornamental ironwork, chandelier lighting, hardware, and marble mantels in the Capitol building came from Philadelphia and the desks and chairs were made by the Raleigh cabinetmaker William Thompson. The Capitol's construction was completed in 1840 at a cost of $532,682.34, which was more than three times the yearly general income of the state at that time.
The building is a cross shape, centering on a domed rotunda where the wings join. It is approximately 160 feet from north to south, 140 feet from east to west (including the porticoes), and stands 97-1/2 feet from the rotunda floor to the crown atop the dome. The exterior walls are built of gneiss, which is a form of granite, and the interior walls are made of stone and brick.
Until 1888, all of North Carolina's state government housed the Capitol building. Today, only the governor, the lieutenant governor, and their immediate staff occupy office on the first floor. The second floor houses legislative chambers, whereas the State Library and Cabinet of Minerals Room occupy the third floor of the Capitol.
Monuments in and around the Capitol honor people and events of North Carolina's history. The earliest bronze statue on the grounds is of George Washington. The statue was placed in remembrance in 1857. The most recent monument at the Capitol honors the men and women from North Carolina who served in the armed forces during the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. The monument was constructed in 1990. Inside the building are busts, plaques, statues, and paintings that commemorate the state's historical times. Worth noting is statue of Washington portrayed as a Roman general and a portrait of Washington painted by American artist Thomas Sully in 1818. This was the first work of art purchased by the state and can now be viewed by tourists from all over the country, if not world.
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