Wisconsin State Capitol

Hi everyone,

After a week of spring like weather here in the upper Midwest, we’re back to the more wintery weather with some ice, sleet, and about two inches of snow the other day. Not complaining too much as other parts of the country fared a lot worse than we did here.

Thanks for all the kind comments on the blog site and Facebook about the post last week about St. Peter’s Church in Ashton. It was a fun article to write and share the photos, most that haven’t seen the light of day since I took them a few years back.

For today’s post, I’m continuing the place or architectural theme started by the St. Peter article. Later this year, it will be the thirtieth anniversary since we moved our young family to Madison from Fargo, North Dakota. Our intent was to stay here for a few years while I worked on my degree at the University of Wisconsin and then return to North Dakota. Those plans were waylaid after we fell in love with this quirky, vibrant, and beautiful community. There’s lots to like, a robust arts community, a wide variety of entertainment options, festivals, educational opportunities and just plain good living.

As I think back over the years, the one thing that is at the center of this city, is the Wisconsin State Capitol. My very first memory (long before we moved here) of seeing the Capitol happened in 1968. Our county 4-H dairy judging team won the North Dakota state contest that allowed us to participate in the national contest in Columbus, Ohio. On our trip to Columbus, we stopped off in Madison to participate in a judging contest at the World Dairy Expo, then in it’s very early beginnings.  I clearly remember entering the city on East Washington, seeing the Capitol for the first time and thinking how majestic.

Before the photos, a little history. The current Capitol building was completed in 1917 after a fire destroyed the previous Capitol on February 26, 1904 (note the anniversary date, 113 years ago today!). Yes, this year is one of celebration, 100 years since the Capitol was completed and opened for public use. The Capitol is located on an isthmus between Lake Mendota to the north and Lake Monona to the south. The Capitol is home to the Office of the Governor, both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature and the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The Capitol is the tallest building in Madison, a distinction that is written into legislation that prohibits buildings taller than the columns surrounding the dome. While there are entrances on each side of the Capitol, the “main” entrance faces to the west towards the University and nothing can obstruct the view from the Capitol to Bascom Hall, the home of University administration. It is said this is done so they can keep an eye on each other! I recall several years ago when the University was adding on to the main library. After lots of controversy, the University had to modify their building plans so as not to obstruct the view! That’s Madison folks!

In looking through my photo archives, I’ve taken hundreds, maybe thousands of photos of the the Capitol building most from the outside but also some from the inside. The dome of the Capitol can be seen from many spots surrounding the city. The following are some views one might see when approaching the Capitol Square. The top photo was taken from near the entrance of Picnic Point on a clear fall morning just as the sun was coming over the horizon. The second image was taken from across Lake Monona at Olin-Turville Park while the bottom photo was taken at the foot of State Street looking up towards the Capitol.capitol-morning-after-copycapitol-0500capitol-3087

The following four photos of the exterior of the building as one moves closer. The top photo in this series is from State Street with the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) in the foreground. The second and third images are from different angles while the fourth photo is from the Monona Terrace Convention Center on the shores of Lake Monona.capitol-1929capitol-1938capitol-3802capitol-9594

The top photo is one of my personal favorites taken in the spring a few years ago when the tulips were in full bloom. I’ve donated a number of copies of this image to charities for their fundraising efforts.capitol-9141capitol-8917capitol-3721capitol-9800

This image is also one of favs of the exterior, the silhouette and the sunset. It was taken last summer after I bought a new camera lens and was giving it a try. I really like the result!capitol-3801

Now for some interior shots. I had the good fortune to attend a photography workshop here in Madison a few years ago where the instructor got permission to use tripods while photographing, as their use is generally prohibited inside the building. The architectural detail, the mosaics, murals and paintings are very enjoyable.capitol-9559capitol-8622capitol-7399capitol-7377capitol-7366capitol-7360capitol-7356

Tours of the Capitol Building are a popular attraction for visitors and residents alike. In this photo the guide is pointing out details in the granite in one of the hearing rooms.capitol-9571

The Capitol Building and the Capitol Square are often used by citizens to let their representatives know their opinions on bills or actions. The Capitol was in the national spotlight about this time six years when protesters occupied the Capitol when the Governor and Legislature proposed legislation to disband public employee unions. Politics aside, as a photographer it was fun and challenging to capture the story. I tried to photograph at least three or four times a week. Here a few images with the Capitol in the background.capitol-8342capitol-8166

This image is from the second floor inside the Capitol looking down at the protesters on the first floor of the Rotunda.capitol-8027

I hope you enjoyed this brief photo tour of the Wisconsin State Capitol. Next week, I’ll take you a short journey down State Street, the several block long street that connects the Capitol and the University of Wisconsin.

Until then take care and travel safe,


6 thoughts on “Wisconsin State Capitol

  1. Tom, thanks for sharing your unique perspectives on the state capitol. I can appreciate all the work that went into creating these wonderful photos.

    1. Thanks for your comments Theresa. I enjoy the writing and have some of my photo work see the light of day rather than reside in the dark on my computer!

  2. Incredible stuff. Looks like most of snow has melted again.

    Robert west 608-212-4133 cell


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