Planning: Architectural Ancestors
Part I: PlanningSelecting SacramentoArchitectural AncestorsA Capitol for California
Part II: ConstructionConcept to RealityA Tale of Two Stones
Part III: GrowthApse and East AnnexRebuild or Restore?
Part IV: RestorationRestoring a LegacyLost ArtsFine DetailsLegislative Chambers
A common feature found in many state capitols, including California's, is a portico opening into a central rotunda that rises into a dome. This architectural convention, borrowed from the Romans, creates an inspiring and majestic entrance.
To house the bicameral (composed of two legislative branches) government that the United States adopted from the British, the design of many capitols includes two wings that extend from a central rotunda. In California's Capitol the Assembly is in the left wing and the Senate in the right wing.Virginia State Capitol, Richmond
Architect: Thomas Jefferson In 1785 while minister to France, Jefferson designed Virginia's first permanent capitol the in Neo-Roman style. He was assisted by the prominent draftsman Charles-Louis Clérisseau. The Maison Carrée at Nîmes, France served as their model. This temple, built by the Romans, still stands today.
The Capitol's rotunda displays a life-size statue of George Washington. Wings were added to the original building in 1906. You can see the Washington statue in a virtual tour of theVirginia Capitol.The Massachusetts State House, Boston
Architect: Charles Bulfinch
The self-taught architect Charles Bulfinch designed Massachusetts' Capitol in the American Federal style, which takes its names from the era in American history (1783-1815) when the nation was being established.
The building's front features an elevated portico with a series of Corinthian columns. The large gilded dome is topped with a lantern, and a pinecone, a symbol of the Massachusetts forests. Bulfinch also designed state houses for Connecticut (1796) and Maine (1832). You can see a virtual tour of the Massachusetts State House.United States Capitol, Washington, DC
Architect: Benjamin Latrobe
Benjamin Latrobe emigrated to the United States from England in 1796. By 1798 he had established himself as a talented architect specializing in Greek Revival buildings. This architectural style fits nicely with then-president Thomas Jefferson's philosophy of politically relevant architecture. In 1803 Latrobe was called to Washington to complete the U.S. Capitol, a project that kept him occupied for the remainder of his life. You can see a virtual tour of the U.S. Capitol.