Arizona State Capitol
Arizona State Capitol Building
View of the original capitol building
|Location:||1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, Arizona|
|Area:||2 acres (0.81 ha)|
|Architect:||James Riely Gordon; Lon Megargee|
|Architectural style:||Classical Revival|
|Governing body:||State of Arizona|
|Added to NRHP:||October 29, 1974|
The Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona, United States, formerly housed the Territorial and State Legislatures, as well as various executive offices. These have relocated to adjacent buildings, and the Capitol is now maintained as the Arizona Capitol Museum.
Museum exhibits 
Exhibits at the Arizona Capitol Museum emphasize the history and culture of Arizona from early times to the present. Topics include Arizona state symbols, historical figures, natural history, the role of government and the story of Arizona's statehood, and baskets and photographs from Edward S. Curtis.
Visitors can enter the Historic House Chamber where the AZ Constitution was written and sit at the desks. There is also a room dedicated to the 140 changes in the AZ Constitution over 100 years of statehood. The Governor's office on the second floor has a wax figure of Arizona's First Governor, George W.P. Hunt, and an exhibit that includes a flag used by the Roughriders
One impressive display shows the enormous silver and copper punchbowl service from the USS Arizona, as well as a bronze sculpture that was ensconced outside the Admiral's stateroom and used as a centerpiece at state dinners where ever the USS Arizona was docked. Both of these historical artifacts survived the sinking of the Arizona because they had been removed from the ship for cleaning prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The punchbowl service is the only one of its kind and is composed of etched copper panels depicting desert scenes set into a silver bowl ornamented with mermaids, dolphins, waves, and other nautical themes.
Of particular interest is the display of a collection of gifts received by Arizona as part of the "Merci Train" sent by France to the United States following World War II. The French wanted to thank America for sending 250 railroad cars full of fuel, oil, and food in 1948 during a time that the European countries were devastated by World War II. Tens of thousands of French citizens donated objects to be sent to the United States and it was decided that because the outpouring of goods was so great, one boxcar would be sent to each state with one being shared between the District of Columbia and the Territory of Hawaii. All of the items were to be loaded in "Forty and Eight"-type boxcars, named after the sign painted on them which stated that 40 men or 8 horses could be loaded inside. Each car was to be adorned with the coats of arms of all of the provinces of France.
In all, 52,000 gifts were collected, ranging from worn wooden shoes to a jeweled Legion of Honor medal that belonged to Napoleon. The collection also included a Louis XV carriage, children's drawings, and tree seedlings. They were gathered throughout 1948 and crammed into the railroad cars. The 50-car train was shipped to America aboard the ore carrier Magellan, which sailed into New York Harbor on February 3, 1949 amidst a fleet of small boats with Air Force planes flying overhead while thousands of New Yorkers watched from the shore. A huge sign on the side of the Magellan read simply "Thank You, America."
Congress had passed a resolution allowing the gifts to enter the country duty-free, and longshoremen volunteered their servéices to bring the cars ashore. Of too narrow a gauge for American rails, the cars were loaded onto flatcars in New Jersey for delivery, at no charge, by the nation's railroads to state capitals across the country. On reaching their destinations, the cars were greeted by dignitaries at special ceremonies. Their contents, after being displayed for a time, were distributed in a variety of ways. Many were sold at auction, with the proceeds going to charity, while some especially significant items went to public institutions.
This train has had a long lasting impact in Arizona and its boxcar has been given a great home at Scottsdale's McCormick Stillman Railroad Park. However, the train's mission is now largely forgotten, a curious relic of two incredible displays of goodwill which followed the horrors of World War II. Unfortunately, few of the gifts lovingly placed in the cars by the citizens of France can be traced today. Arizona is the rare exception and it publicly remembers in its capitol museum this great expression of friendship and caring between the peoples of France and the United States who fought side by side for a common goal over half a century ago. The museum proudly displays a selection of the gifts that it received, ranging from a beautiful Majolica oil and vinegar cruet set to a light blue handknit infant sweater and cap with a note pinned to it saying that it was intended "Pour un Americane Bébé" to a simple handmade Valentine of thanks.
The building was created as part of an effort to demonstrate that the Arizona Territory was ready for statehood. A design contest was won by James Riely Gordon, whose original plan called for the Capitol to be much larger, with a more prominent rotunda and large wings for both houses of the legislature on each side of the current building. Funding deficits meant the project had to be reduced, so the legislative wings were discarded from the plan and a small lead-alloy top substituted for Gordon's decorative dome.
The grand mosaic of the state seal did not suffer from a blunder by the private contractor who did not include two of Arizona's "Five Cs" as is erroneously reported to school children: it was designed as required by the Arizona Constitution. Cattle and Citrus, although important to the state commerce (along with copper, climate, and cotton) were not required to be on the seal.
Construction of the Capitol began in 1898, and it began operation in 1901. In 1918 and 1938, expansions were added on the west side of the building, which had the same architecture and increased the total square footage from the original 40,000 to a final 123,000. It was home to the Legislature until 1960, when the current house and senate buildings were constructed, and the Governor's Office until 1974, when the executive tower was built. The state at that time had a plan of converting the original Capitol into a museum dedicated to Arizona's history. After a restoration, the building was re-opened as a museum in 1981. In the 1990s, more than $3 million was spent to renovate the Capitol and rooms were restored to their original design. Again, due to budget deficits, construction was stopped on a few rooms on the third floor and they remain incomplete. The Capitol is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On January 14, 2010, the Arizona State Department of Administration reported that it had sold the surrounding state buildings to private investors: the tower, the two flanking legislative buildings, and other state structures. The Old Capitol was not part of this transaction.
The building is made largely from materials indigenous to Arizona, including malapai, granite, and the copper dome. The design is optimized for the desert climate of Arizona, with thick masonry walls that insulate the interior, skylights, and round "bullseye" clerestory windows to let heat out of the legislative chambers. The building is topped with a windvane similar to the Winged Victory of Samothrace, visible through a skylight from within the rotunda.
Capitol Mall Renovation Proposal 
As Arizona's population has grown, the Capitol complex itself has become increasingly crowded. The Senate and House buildings, opened in 1960, have been deteriorating. The Senate in particular is prone to constant plumbing problems, and occasionally a broken pipe floods the entire building. The Capitol itself is now used exclusively as a museum, and serves over 60,000 visitors each year, including more than 30,000 school children. In addition, many complaints have been made that the current site is not pleasing aesthetically, and compare the Senate and House buildings as oversized "bunkers" which eclipse the beauty of the Capitol. A task force appointed by the state legislature in 2007 reported that the complex is "barely" adequate to suit the state's current needs and "wholly" inadequate to suit the state's future needs. As a result, proposals are now being made to renovate or rebuild the Capitol site, to a grander site, as well as a site that will serve the needs of the government more adequately.
Recent proposals are for relocating some office and meeting space back into the Capitol, while it maintains at least some function as a museum. The House and Senate buildings have been recommended to undergo either a drastic rebuilding and expansion, or a complete demolition and construction of new facilities for the House and Senate. A recent Arizona State University study planned a comprehensive redesign for the entire Capitol mall and complex.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Arizona State Capitol|
- Silverstein, Ken (July 2010). "Tea Party in the Sonora". Harper's (Harper's Magazine Foundation) 321 (1,922): 35–42.
- Group wants new home for Arizona Legislature
- Arizona Capital Mall District Revitalization Plan
|Tallest building in Phoenix