The Texas State Capitol

Story by Ted Gresham
Photography by George Hosek

Forget politics. Sure, a few months every couple years the Texas Legislature meets there but the Texas Capitol stands for something far more enduring than political fervor: Texas Pride.

The Capitol complex covers twenty-two acres of exquisitely manicured lawns, magnificent sculptures, and amazingly serene pathways beneath ancient native tree branches. The Capitol building could easily be confused with the U.S. Capitol if not for the pink granite the state house is built of.

Atop the legendary dome stands the Goddess of Liberty, herself an object of legend. East and West of the dome are the Senate and the House chambers. On the north, completely out of site, four floors of offices sit, entirely below ground. The Capitol building is both exceptionally historic and ultra-modern.

Itís hard not to recognize the pink granite of the dome from anywhere in Austin. Walk through the gates at the Congress entrance, past the ever-present Department of Public Safety Capitol Patrol, and straight up to the grand entrance. Step through huge doors. Experience Texas!

Once inside a visitor is bombarded with Texas history. There are tour guides available but before taking a tour itís best just to walk around a little and gawk at everything.

 

Then either go back and take a tour or stroll the grounds and wind up at the visitor center south east of the Capitol building. Only after getting an impression of the building and grounds can a visitor understand the richness of Texas history as told at the visitor center.

The current Capitol is the third building to house the Texas legislature. It was built in the 1880ís from granite hauled from Marble Falls. A century later a fire almost destroyed the building. But the grandeur was restored and in the early 1990ís the four level extension was added to the north, doubling the floor space of the largest of all state capitols.

From the granite dome that takes on the most incredible hues at sunset to the polished brass and dark paneling of the underground extension, the edifice is entirely one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

 
 
Sprinkled around the Capitol Grounds are statues and monuments that represent the richness of Texas history and culture.

Some of the most important, like the Heroes of the Alamo monument, lie to the south of the building.

Thereís recognition of Pearl Harbor, the Korean War, Disabled Vets and Texas Peace Officers. Never overlooked in importance, Texas families are represented with a statue of a Texas Pioneer Woman and a delightful collection of figures paying tribute to Texas children.

Sooner or later a visitor must climb the steps of the old General Land Office building that now serves as the visitor center. Thereís plenty there to fill in the gaps and answer questions.

 
The gift shop is well stocked with Texana. What better place to buy a Texas flag? Thereís also free maps, exhibits, and even a replica of the ď1824Ē flag, purported to be the flag flown over the Alamo. Before leaving the visitor center everyone must climb to the top floor and take in a final view of the Capitol Building rising above the trees.

Willie Nelson sings ďThereís No Place Like Texas.Ē Thereís no better place IN Texas for visitors to discover where Texas has come from, what itís about, and where itís going than the Texas State Capitol. Thatís Capitol with a Capitol OH!

H.J. Ted Gresham is a writer and entrepreneur who lives in Lufkin, Texas.  He's written numerous articles and has two books available online at www.lulu.com/tedgresham.  Ted is an avid traveler and proud Texan who spends much of his time exploring new places around the state.

George Hosek is a professional assignment photographer from Houston. He's had his photographs published in many publications including, Texas Highways and Texas Parks & Wildlife.

 
State Preservation Board
www.tspb.state.tx.us

Texas Legislator on line
www.capitol.state.tx.us

Official website for the state of Texas
www.state.tx.us

Texas State Capital tour for kids and adults
www.senate.state.tx.us

Texas State Capitol Gift Shop
www.texascapitolgiftshop.com

Inside the Texas Capitol Blog
texascapitol.blogspot.com

The Capital of Texas Triathlon
www.captextri.com

Treasured Artworks at the Texas Capitol
www.tfaoi.com

Austin History Center
www.ci.austin.tx.us

 

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