We drove into Richmond today to tour the capitol and learn a little more history. It’s a cute little building, designed by Thomas Jefferson, based on a first century roman temple that he had seen. The hill hides a huge visitors entrance and museum which was recently added.
Our guide was a bit of a pill, concerned that the kids weren’t in school, then made a sarcastic comment about being in Oregon years ago when our bumper stickers said to “visit, but not stay”. I bit my tongue and am so proud of myself. Unhappy people don’t deserve replies!
I didn’t realize that this building was both the government seat for Virginia, and also the Confederate headquarters during the Civil War. We’ve been so many places where they commandeered people’s homes and businesses to use as their headquarters, I didn’t even think they might use the capitol. Although 60% of the battles of the Civil War were fought in Virginia, the capitol was not harmed.
The guide was VERY proud to be from Virginia. He rattled off facts about the state, and most often he started his sentences with, “Virginia was first to” do – whatever, you name it. I kept telling the kids they were first because people settled here first! Not that they were superior in any way to neighboring states – it’s just that more people lived here first. The land was good, and people moved in to farm, and small cities grew up around them.
This statue of George Washington is a first because he actually posed for it and it is life-size. Or so the guide said! It’s housed right below the dome, which has stripes painted on the inside. The bust behind Washington is one of 8 along the walls. I cannot tell who it is exactly, but it’s one of our presidents; 4 of the first 5 presidents were from Virginia, and 6 out of the first 10. To date, there are 8 presidents from Virginia and the busts were all in this room.
The building is beautiful on the inside; first completed in 1788, they’ve done a huge restoration in the last few years. Each room had paintings that were original to the building and I could write a page just about them, they were so magnificent. It was pretty cool to stand where Jefferson first wrote the Declaration of Independence, or bits and pieces.
This is a mace and was a gift from Parliament in England when the House of Burgesses was established here in 1619. The sergeant at arms will get it out and ceremoniously use it to open the session each time they meet. It was beautiful, and the old Senate room was reproduced very nicely.
Eliza wasn’t feeling well, so we left before the tour was over. It was such a tiny capitol, I don’t think we missed much. I’m glad we went, but we were happy to leave!