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[photo] Historic postcards of the Georgia State Capitol
Courtesy of Jody Cook

The Georgia State Capitol, completed in 1889, is a landmark in the history of 19th-century American architecture. In style, form, and plan, it is a perfect expression and symbol of the idea of a Capitol building for the "Capital of the New South," as Atlanta was called after Reconstruction. Reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol Building, it directly expressed Atlanta's new nationalism when city leaders were rebuilding the destroyed Confederate railroad center in a new image. Atlanta became the temporary location of the State capital in 1868, and when this became permanent in 1877, the city offered the State five acres on which to erect a capitol building. It took several years of legislative appropriations and bids before construction began in 1884. At the cost of nearly one million dollars, the architectural firm of Edbrooke and Burnham of Chicago designed the Neo-Classical style building.

Aerial view of Georgia State Capitol
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS, HABS, GA,61-ATLA,3-96

The Capitol's main entrance, approached on a wide concrete plaza, faces downtown Atlanta. Dominating this west facade is a four-story portico, the pediment being supported by six columns in the composite order and six rusticated piers. This entrance leads into the main floor located on the second level of the building. Above this pedimented portico rises a dome and lantern covered with Georgia gold leaf, topped by a female statue of Freedom holding a sword to her side and a lantern aloft. Indiana oolithic limestone is the chief facing material. The rear facade essentially duplicates the front. Inside, Georgia marble was used for floors, steps, and a facing for walls. On the west side of the open rotunda, above the entrance way and defined by the portico, is the House Chamber. On the east side is the Senate Chamber. Oak paneling in both chambers was a massive exercise in Florentine Renaissance motifs with an Eastlake Victorian touch. Statuary, marble busts, portraits, and markers are displayed on every floor. Under the rotunda is a Hall of Fame with marble busts of the Georgia signers of the Declaration of Independence, as well as other notable citizens from the past including Moina Bell Michael, Crawford Long, and Juliet Gordon Low. The fourth floor corridors have displays which comprise the Georgia Capitol Museum. In continuous use as a state capitol housing the legislative and state government offices, it remains an important architectural and historic landmark.

The Georgia State Capitol is located at 206 Washington St. on Capitol Square in downtown Atlanta, near the intersection of I-20 and I-75/85. The Capitol and the Georgia Capitol Museum are open to the public from 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday-Friday. To view the legislature in session, please note that the General Assembly meets from January-March and also during special sessions. For specific tour information visit the State Capitol website.

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  [image] Tullie Smith House and link to Antebellum Atlanta essay   [image] African American baseball players of Morris Brown College - Atlanta and link to African American Experience essay   [image] Historic postcard of Fox Theatre Historic District and link to Growth and Preservation essay

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