The Minnesota State Capitol, designed by Cass Gilbert, first opened in 1905. Since that time, millions of people – lawmakers and visitors – have poured through its doors. Over a hundred years after its opening, it was (not surprisingly) badly in need of restoration.
That time-consuming process began in 2013 and is nearing completion.
The price tag for this renovation is $310 million, with priority placed in increasing the building’s functionality, keeping people safe and keeping the building’s architectural integrity intact and ready to receive millions more visitors over the next century.
Even though it’s not quite finished, it’s already well worth a visit.
The restoration has returned the building to a pristine, like-new state that is beautiful to behold.
From the beautiful glass star built into the floor of the first-floor rotunda, which symbolizes Minnesota’s claim to being the North Star State, to the gorgeous, meticulously detailed dome, everything is bright and clean and worthy of taking your time.
And yes, it’s worth visiting each floor.
Even though the rotunda is open to the dome, the view changes depending on your altitude. Plus, each floor has different historic or artistic displays, including numerous battle flags from wars Minnesotans fought in.
Plus, if court isn’t in session, you can peek into the Minnesota State Supreme Court room.
Or the state House of Representatives.
Or the state Senate.
Interesting tidbit: Unlike the House, where the different political parties literally sit across the aisle from each other, the Senate has a different seating arrangement. The majority party sits in the back, while the minority party sits in the front. Given that all addresses in the Senate have to be given facing the front of the room, it means that the minority party cannot face its opposition while speaking.
Don’t miss going into the lower level, or you won’t see the charming Rathskellar.
Gilbert designed it to resemble a German dining hall, but after the World Wars it was painted over. In the late 1990s, more than 20 layers of paint were removed, restoring the dining area to its earlier glory.
So, take some time and take a stroll. You can get a brochure on the first floor that allows you to take a self-guided tour, or there are guided tours as well, which are free.
What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.