Kurt's Historic Sites

Lansing, Michigan capitol

Michigan

Admission to the Union Sequence in Admission Sequence in Capitols I Have Visited
January 26, 1837 26th admitted 5th visited

Photographed April 19, 2010.

In April 2010 I traversed to six state capitols in a five-day span, the first of which was in Lansing, Michigan. Sometimes finding a good place to pose for a photograph with a capitol — or any large structure — can be difficult if you want to showcase the facility in its entirety without yourself being unnoticeable or, conversely, being so prominent in the foreground that you obscure the building. If there is good signage, sometimes it is just much easier to get your picture with that instead. This marker provides an overview of the statehouse’s history and its construction materials, sourced from the Wolverine State.

From the exterior, the capitol’s standout feature is its spired dome, the tip of which is 267 feet from the ground. My father and I spent most of the day at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn and by the time we arrived in Lansing in the early evening we did not have the opportunity to go inside to look at the inner dome from the rotunda. I will note that it looks gorgeous from what I have seen on the internet.

Photographed April 19, 2010.
Photographed April 19, 2010.

Zoomed in on the Michigan State Capitol dome. In the subsequent days my father and I also stopped at the state houses in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

This pediment beneath the dome is decorated with sculptures by Prussian-born artist Herman Wehner, with contributions from Lewis T. Ives. The seated figure at the left represents agriculture, and the one at the right symbolizes commerce. The central figure is the personification of Michigan itself. A report by the Building Commissioners from September 30, 1876 describes the statue and its culturally insensitive symbolism: “[…] Michigan is represented by a female figure in Indian costume, casting away the emblems of barbarism, a scalping knife and tomahawk, and taking up civilization and education as emblemized by a globe and collection of books at either hand.”  

Photographed April 19, 2010.

Sources Consulted and Further Reading

Michigan State Capitol Commission. “Capitol Facts.” Accessed February 14, 2022. http://capitol.michigan.gov/CapitolFacts/.

Michigan State Senate. ‘The Pediment of the Michigan Capitol Building.” Accessed February 7, 2022. https://www.senate.michigan.gov/history/pediment/pediment.htm.

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