I live 3 miles from the Georgia State Capitol and work about 1/2 mile from it, so I see it pretty much everyday. This is also my first winter living and working so close to the Capitol, so I’ve been getting used dealing with the influx of staffers, Representatives and Senators to the Assembly (their annual session lasts from January to March).
Either way, I took this photo while out on a run. Although the Capitol building is relatively new (built in 1889), it still an interesting building with some cool factoids about it. Here’s what I’ve learned while running, walking, busing and driving by –
- The gold on the Dome was not installed until 1958. It’s also tied with Iowa as the largest Gold Dome among the state capitols (ten have them).
- The State was apprehensive about the cost of the gold, so the Lumpkin County and Dahlonega offered it for free.
- The gold was shipped to Atlanta on a caravan of seven mule-drawn covered wagons. This was in 1958.
- But once the gold got to Atlanta, they had to ship it to Philadelphia to be milled. It was installed once they shipped it back (presumably not by wagons).
- The engineers installing it did not know that gold does not bond in cold weather, so by 1977, most of the gold had fallen off.
- Again, the State did not want to replace it, so Dahlonega and Lumpkin County held a fundraiser to replace the gold. Now the State replaces the leaf as it falls off.
- There is an observation room at the top of the Dome – a couple has even gotten married there. But it’s closed to the public now.
- The woman on top of the Dome is Miss Freedom, which is actually a colloquial name that she’s developed over the years. She was originally christened “Goddess of Liberty.” I like Miss Freedom better.
- Nobody knew how tall or how heavy Miss Freedom was until 2004 when she was sent to Canada for restoration (she’s 26 feet to torch and 1600 lbs).
- The Capitol is where it’s at because Atlanta offered free land and subsidized construction. Voters took Atlanta up on the offer and ditched the former capital of Milledgeville.
- Georgia was so under-industrialized at the time that the architect, building contractors and almost all the building supplies had to be imported from Northern states. Only the cornerstones are Georgia marble.
- There is a museum inside the Georgia State Capitol – and I’ve never seen it.
- In the South, statues of really not-cool dudes are very common. But the Capitol grounds has statues of basically every Georgian we don’t want to honor and none of the ones we do. The most prominent are of John B. Gordon – the founder of the Ku Klux Klan and one of the primary opponents of Reconstruction efforts – and Eugene Talmadge – an “admitted flogger and racial demagogue who presided over a Klan-ridden regime.” They were both Governors.
Either way, it’s a beautiful building on beautiful grounds (it’s flanked by enormous magnolia trees). If you’re in Atlanta, go check it out.