The Indiana Statehouse, located in the state’s capital at Indianapolis, is one of the Midwest’s most alluring buildings. Just a 2 hour drive from Butler County, the structure was built in 1888, serving as the center of Indiana’s government.
Home to the Indiana General Assembly, the Governor’s office, and the Supreme Court, the statehouse is a popular destination for appreciators of both fine architecture and democracy. Visitors can view both chambers of the legislature, and can visit the Statehouse Education Center, where people of all ages are invited to learn about how the Indiana state government operates and works for the people.
The state’s General Assembly is composed of a House of Representatives and a Senate, both elected by local populations within districts. The House of Representatives has 100 members, while the Senate has 50. Bills passed by the house and senate are referred to the Governor of Indiana for final approval into law, or veto. The judicial system of Indiana, headed by the Supreme Court, determines the constitutionality and lawfulness of actions dealing with state law. All of this happens under the same roof.
Inspired by the great architectural prodigies of the italian renaissance, the capitol’s architects designed the building to resemble a cross. Four monumental wings are connected by a central rotunda with an iconic glass domed ceiling, located below the building’s exterior dome.
The halls of the building are embellished with fine paintings, murals and sculptures, housing the state’s Public Art Collection. The most prominent sculptures are Alexander Doyle’s Values of Civilization, depicting personifications of agriculture, art, commerce, history, justice, law, liberty and oration. Hundreds of plaques, busts, paintings and statues are displayed, honoring famous hoosiers, former governors and national heroes.
A 21 x 41.5 foot mural entitled Spirit of Indiana overlooks the Indiana House of Representatives. Painted by Eugene Francis Savage, the mural depicts roman gods personifying Indiana history and values. Painted in an art deco abstract style, the mural was commissioned by the state at a cost of $40,000, and was displayed at the 1964 World’s Fair.
The building is quite stable. In fact, its stability is required by law! When the General Assembly commissioned the building in 1878, they mandated that the building be constructed on solid ground. This is because the previous state house collapsed as a result of structural failure. In fact, 4 different statehouses preceded the current building, and all of them were either demolished or abandoned due to a change in the location of the state’s capital.
The Indiana Statehouse is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guided and self-guided tours are available to the general public year-round. Located at the corner of Capitol and Washington street in downtown Indianapolis, the Indiana Statehouse is sure to be a thrill for lovers of history, art and democracy.