The “new” Kentucky State Capitol Building was built in 1910 at a cost of just over a million dollars. Designed by Frank Mills Andrews in the Beaux-Arts style, the beautiful Capitol sits high above Kentucky’s capital city of Frankfort. All three branches of the Kentucky government are housed within the Capitol building. The Capitol features a magnificent rotunda and some wonderful statues and artwork throughout. Entrance and tours are free. I hope you enjoy my photos of the Kentucky State Capitol.
The central rotunda includes five statues and four beautiful pendentive paintings. The statues represent five prominent Kentuckians. In the center of the rotunda is a large statue of Kentucky-born Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States and commander-in-chief of the Union during the American Civil War. In the four corners of the room are Henry Clay, Jefferson Davis, Alben Barkley and Dr. Ephraim McDowell. Henry Clay was a Kentucky politician who served in both the Senate and House of Representatives and was a three-time candidate for president. He was known as “The Great Compromiser” for his ability to see all perspectives and negotiate some middle ground. Jefferson Davis served as the United States’ Secretary of War before becoming the first and only president of the Confederate States of America. Alben Barkley served in both houses of congress before going on to become the 35th Vice President of the United States under Harry Truman. Dr. Ephraim McDowell was a physician and pioneer surgeon who was the first to successfully remove an ovarian tumor.
The four pendentives have an interesting story behind them. They were a part of the original design for the building, but the artist chosen to paint them, Frank Millet, was a passenger on board the ill-fated Titanic. When the Titanic sank, the paintings were never completed. When the capitol underwent a major restoration in the build-up to its centennial celebration in 2010, these paintings were finally added to the rotunda. These beautiful paintings are representative of so many of the things that make Kentucky what it is, from the bison and Native Americans of the past to the bourbon and horse racing of the present. To read more about each painting and what it represents, check out the Kentucky State Capitol website HERE.
As I mentioned above, all three branches of the Kentucky State Legislature meet in the capitol building. The Kentucky Senate has 38 members and their House of Representatives has 100 members. The Kentucky Supreme Court has seven justices, each appointed to an eight year term.
There are several other cool things in the capitol building of note. There is a statue to Kentucky’s most recognizable citizen, Colonel Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame. One of my favorites is the hallway of Kentucky Women Remembered which displays notable women from the state’s history. I also liked the county quilt which has a patch for each county in the state.
I really enjoyed my visit to the Kentucky State Capitol, as I have enjoyed my visits to all the state capitols I have been to. They really are a great place to go to learn about what the people of that state deem important and what they want to recognize in their most important building. Have you been to your state capitol lately? Maybe you should go for a visit!