More of Don's
Olympia has been the capital of Washington from the beginning, even though Tacoma, Ellensburg, Vancouver, and Yakima all tried to get it at various times. The present capitol building is the only capitol Washington has ever built; earlier buildings were rented or purchased.
The building was constructed between 1912 and 1928. It is unique among state capitols in that instead of one large building, it consists of four separate buildings; the domed structure is the Legislative Building.
I began visiting state capitols in 1946 or 1947 when I attended a church young people's conference in Olympia. The minister of the church there was a man of unbounded enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity; he was also the type of person who could walk into the governor's office and start chatting with the governor (or anybody else) without hesitation. Somehow he had obtained keys to various parts of the building which were not ordinarily open to the public. He took about a dozen of us kids on a tour of the capitol, which he knew all about. It was a very interesting tour indeed. I have never lost my interest in capitols, and have visited all of them except Juneau and Honolulu over the years.
The Tiffany chandelier is suspended 50 feet above the floor. It is 25 feet long and eight feet in diameter; it weighs five tons. The chain which supports it is 101 feet long and weighs one and one-half tons. There are 202 lights in the chandelier.
The gold Great Seal of the State of Washington, a likeness of George himself, is embedded in the floor of the rotunda.
Nearing completion of the renovation, the Senate Chamber will be ready for occupancy when the Legislative Session begins in January 2005.
This large bust of George Washington graces one of the balconies overlooking the rotunda. George's nose has become very shiny due to people not being able to resist touching it.
The Governor's Mansion is located on the Capitol grounds. It is now (February 2006) open for visitors on Wednesdays, with reservations; I hear it is beautiful inside, so I will have to schedule a visit. The building was built before the Capitol, and was the temporary capitol while the Legislative Building was being built.
The "Oly" fountain (my name for it) was donated by a bigwig in the Olympia Brewing Company as a "gift" to the state. For many years, Oly (Olympia) beer was the best in the west. I know it was my preference. Oly's slogan is "It's the water." Alas, the Oly company is now owned by Pabst, and their beer doesn't seem as good as it used to be (or maybe I'm just getting old). [June 25, 2003: The old Olympia brewery is closing permanently. It could be sold to a small local brewery, but there aren't many of those left. Sad day for the hundreds of workers losing their jobs, and the city of Olympia losing its most famous landmark. (Actually, the brewery is outside the city.) My kids and I toured the brewery when my kids were in their early teens. It was a very interesting tour. I got a free beer, but my kids were unhappy that they had to settle for soft drinks.]