Friday, July 7, 2017

Des Moines - Capitol, Friends, Fun

We moved from Omaha to Des Moines to tour the Iowa capitol and explore the area. After we put on Facebook that we were in the area, we received a message from Jerry and Gloria, whom we met at Betty's last year, that they lived nearby and wanted to get together. Meeting friends on the road is great. 
We stayed at Bob Shetler COE park just north of the city. It was a great deal at $9.00 a day and included an electric hookup. There was a great trail system in the park and we actually got the bikes out and took a ride. As you can see it was not crowded during the week. It filled up on Friday then cleared out again on Sunday.
The Iowa capitol was built over a fifteen year period starting in 1871. It is a rectangle and built in the modified and refined Renaissance style. The 23-karat gold leaf covered dome rises 275 feet above the capitol grounds. It has four smaller domes at each corner making it the only capitol with five domes. 
The dome is undergoing a $10,000,000 repair of the masonry. Most of the work is on the interior of the dome so the gold leaf that was last redone in 1999 will not need any repair.
The interior of the dome has a painted sky with clouds that was added during a recent renovation. The emblem of the Grand Army of the Republic (G. A. R.) is painted on canvas and laying on wires that run through the center of the dome. The emblem honors the role of Iowans in preserving the Union during the Civil War. Because of the work on the dome, the public cannot get into the dome, but we did get up to the bottom of the windows. 
Looking down into the rotunda. Notice the beautiful floor. The center at the bottom is a glass floor that had been removed years ago to help with ventilation. It was replaced during the last renovation.
Nanc up in the dome. It was a long climb up a spiral staircase, but well worth it.
The eight paintings around the top of the rotunda tell the story of the Progress of Civilization;  Hunting, Herding, Agriculture, the Forge, Commerce, Education, Science and Art.  The twelve statues represent History, Science, Law, Fame, Literature, Industry, Peace, Commerce, Agriculture, Victory, Truth and Progress.
A model of the battleship U.S.S. Iowa is 18 feet 7 inches long.
This mural, located above the Grand Stairway, symbolizes the pioneers coming to Iowa. It's titled Westward and was done by artist Edwin H. Blashfield. The woman looking out from the wagon was considered the super model of the day when it was painted in 1905 and she appears in other murals in other states. Sorry, I did not get her name. 
Above the mural are six mosaics made of small pieces of glass done by Frederick Dieiman. They symbolize Defense, Charities, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches of Iowa and Education.
What is Iowa without corn. This painting, Plenty by Floyd V. Brackney, was at the center of the Iowa exhibit at the Pan-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915.
We have seen scagliolo, faux marble, used in several capitols. They have this display of both real and faux marble side by side so you can compare them, very neat.
The State Library of Iowa-Law Library takes up the entire west wing of the capitol. There are beautiful iron spiral staircases at each end for access to the four tiers of books. They have several rare books including one by Benjamin Franklin.
The Old Supreme Court Chamber was used for nearly 120 years before the new judicial building was built in 2003. Fifty years after the chamber was built the state changed this court from five to nine justices. Fortunately, the same craftsman who had carved the original mahogany bench was still alive and able to do the addition exactly the same.   
The Iowa House of Representatives Chamber. The House has 100 members who are elected to two year terms. This chamber was the site of a fire in 1904 that damaged the ceiling.
This is the ceiling that was put up after the fire. While it is beautiful, it is not nearly as ornate as the original.  The chandeliers are also very different.   
The Iowa Senate Chamber. The Senate has 50 members elected to four year terms. The chandeliers here are what the ones in the House looked like before the fire,
This is the Senate ceiling with the skylight and paintings. It is much more ornate than the House ceiling.
The governor's office was not open so we settled for getting to sit at the desk of the secretary of state. The office had a neat old three level safe where they still keep government records. 
The Iowa Constitution that was signed in 1857. The Iowa flag with its red, white and blue tricolors represents that the area that became the state was ruled by France before the Louisiana Purchase. 
There are several statues honoring various people and events on the capitol grounds. The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument is one of the most impressive.
We got together with JC and Gloria who live in Des Moines. We went to dinner a couple evenings at two of their favorite local restaurants. We can recommend Simon's and Cooper's on 5th if you are in the area. We had a great time sharing travel stories and look forward to seeing them at Betty's next spring.
On the weekend we went to the Des Moines Art Show at John and Mary Papa John Sculpture Park. The exhibitors' artwork was beautiful, but we were only window shopping. Loved the big sculptures.
How about this one, Nanc is on the inside and I am on the outside but it creates the illusion of that being opposite. 
A couple more interesting sculptures.
This appears to be a Midwest thing. They even have a Facebook page Pursuing Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches. I have tried it twice and can honestly say, I don't get it. That said, from looking at the Facebook page photos, the ones I had were very small. They all appear to be a breaded and deep fried piece of pork that must be bigger than the bun. They are served with pickles and the condiment of choice. To each his own. 
While the sandwich was less than overwhelming, the beer selection at el Bait Shop was over the top. They have over 200 drafts from which to choose and funky decor in an old bait shop in downtown Des Moines.  A neat ending to a nice stay.

We are still way behind with the blog. We have since had stays in West Branch, Iowa and Indianapolis and arrived in Nashville yesterday. Maybe we will catch up when we are in WashPA.


Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Did the building start shaking when a democrat sat in the Secretary of States Chair?

Jan Mains said...

We've never visited that capitol. We'll just have to do that one.