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Vermont State House

Vermont State House

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The Vermont State House, located in Montpelier
Montpelier, Vermont
Montpelier is a city in the U.S. state of Vermont that serves as the state capital and the shire town of Washington County. As the capital of Vermont, Montpelier is the site of the Vermont State House, seat of the legislative branch of Vermont government. The population was 7,855 at the 2010...

, is the state capitol of Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

 and the seat of the Vermont General Assembly
Vermont General Assembly
The Vermont General Assembly is the legislative body of the U.S. state of Vermont. The Legislature is formally known as the "General Assembly," but the style of "Legislature" is commonly used, including by the body itself...

. The current Greek Revival structure is the third building on the same site to be used as the State House. Designed by Thomas Silloway
Thomas Silloway
Thomas W. Silloway was an American architect, known for building over 400 church buildings in the eastern United States....

 in 1857-1858, it was occupied in 1859.

The Vermont State House has been restored carefully beginning during the early 1980s by direction of curator David Schütz and the Friends of the Vermont State House
Friends of the Vermont State House
-Origins and mission:The Friends of the Vermont State House is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the restoration, conservation, and interpretation of Vermont's historic State House, the seat of the U.S. state of Vermont's legislative branch of government...

, a citizens' advisory committee. The general style of the building is Neoclassical
Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

 and Greek Revival
Greek Revival architecture
The Greek Revival was an architectural movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, predominantly in Northern Europe and the United States. A product of Hellenism, it may be looked upon as the last phase in the development of Neoclassical architecture...

 and is furnished in American Empire, Renaissance Revival, and Rococo Revival styles. Some rooms have been restored to represent latter nineteenth century styles including the "Aesthetic Movement" style.

The Vermont State House is located on State Street on the western edge of downtown Montpelier, a block north of the Winooski River
Winooski River
The Winooski River is a tributary of Lake Champlain, approximately long, in northern Vermont in the United States. Although not Vermont's longest river, it is one of the state's most significant, forming a major valley way from Lake Champlain through the Green Mountains towards the Connecticut...

. Set against a wooded hillside (which was open pasture land earlier during the building's history), the building and its distinctive gold leaf
Gold leaf
right|thumb|250px|[[Burnishing]] gold leaf with an [[agate]] stone tool, during the water gilding processGold leaf is gold that has been hammered into extremely thin sheets and is often used for gilding. Gold leaf is available in a wide variety of karats and shades...

 dome are easily visible while approaching Montpelier, the smallest city to serve as capital of a U.S. state.

Exterior facade and dome

The current structure was designed by architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 Thomas Silloway
Thomas Silloway
Thomas W. Silloway was an American architect, known for building over 400 church buildings in the eastern United States....

 (1828–1910) amplifying the design of an earlier structure designed by Ammi B. Young
Ammi B. Young
Ammi Burnham Young was an important 19th century American architect whose commissions transitioned from the Greek Revival to the Neo-Renaissance styles. His Second Vermont State House brought him fame and success, which eventually led him to become the first Supervising Architect of the U.S....

, (1798–1874) later supervising architect
Office of the Supervising Architect
The Office of the Supervising Architect was an agency of the United States Treasury Department that designed federal government buildings from 1852 to 1939....

 of the U.S. Treasury.

The prior edifice, known as the "second State House", was constructed on the same site between 1833–1838. Young's structure was of a more reserved Greek Revival design based upon the Temple of Theseus in Athens. Gray Barre
Barre (town), Vermont
Barre is a town in Washington County, Vermont, United States. The population was 7,924 at the 2010 census. Barre town almost completely surrounds Barre city, which is incorporated separately from the town of Barre.-Geography:...

Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 is used for the two-story cruciform
A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet...

 design with a Doric
Doric order
The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.-History:...

A portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls...

 and a low saucer dome echoing William Thornton
William Thornton
Dr. William Thornton was a British-American physician, inventor, painter and architect who designed the United States Capitol, an authentic polymath...

's earliest design for the United States Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

. Young's structure was nearly totally destroyed by a fire during January 1857. Silloway was able to salvage the Doric portico, as well as portions of the granite walls. Silloway added an additional bay of windows on each side of the central portico and increased the height of the dome (copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 on a wood substructure) to its current level. This may have been done to imitate the increased height of the new Capitol dome
United States Capitol dome
The United States Capitol dome is the massive dome situated above the United States Capitol which reaches upwards to in height and in diameter. The dome was designed by Thomas U...

 in Washington designed by Thomas U. Walter which was being constructed during the same time.

The dome and roofs were originally painted a dark terracotta red to suggest Tuscan tile. The dome was not gilded until the early 20th century, when many states did so as a part of the Colonial Revival
Colonial Revival architecture
The Colonial Revival was a nationalistic architectural style, garden design, and interior design movement in the United States which sought to revive elements of Georgian architecture, part of a broader Colonial Revival Movement in the arts. In the early 1890s Americans began to value their own...

 style. The dome is topped by a statue named Agriculture, a representation of Ceres
Ceres (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome's so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as "the Greek rites of Ceres"...

, an ancient Roman goddess
Religion in ancient Rome
Religion in ancient Rome encompassed the religious beliefs and cult practices regarded by the Romans as indigenous and central to their identity as a people, as well as the various and many cults imported from other peoples brought under Roman rule. Romans thus offered cult to innumerable deities...

 of agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. The original statue was carved by Vermont artist Larkin Goldsmith Mead
Larkin Goldsmith Mead
Larkin Goldsmith Mead was an American sculptor, working in a neoclassical styleHe was born at Chesterfield, New Hampshire, and was a pupil of Henry Kirke Brown...

, who also carved the large bust of Lincoln in the Hall of Inscriptions on the State House's ground floor. The current statue is a replacement, and something of a piece of folk art
Folk art
Folk art encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic....

, based on Mead's original. It was carved during 1938 by then 87-year-old Dwight Dwinell, Sergeant-at-Arms (in Vermont this official position is similar in nature to the White House Chief Usher
White House Chief Usher
White House Chief Usher is the title of the head of household staff and operations at the White House, the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States....


The Doric portico, the main ceremonial entrance, houses a granite statue of Ethan Allen
Ethan Allen
Ethan Allen was a farmer, businessman, land speculator, philosopher, writer, and American Revolutionary War patriot, hero, and politician. He is best known as one of the founders of the U.S...

. Ethan Allen was a founder of Vermont and commander of the Green Mountain Boys
Green Mountain Boys
The Green Mountain Boys were a militia organization first established in the 1760s in the territory between the British provinces of New York and New Hampshire, known as the New Hampshire Grants...

, an early Vermont military infantry active during the Vermont Republic
Vermont Republic
The term Vermont Republic has been used by later historians for the government of what became modern Vermont from 1777 to 1791. In July 1777 delegates from 28 towns met and declared independence from jurisdictions and land claims of British colonies in New Hampshire and New York. They also...

, (1777–1791). The statue was carved by Aristide Piccini during 1941, to replace the original marble version carved by Larkin Goldsmith Mead during 1858. The architect Stanford White
Stanford White
Stanford White was an American architect and partner in the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, the frontrunner among Beaux-Arts firms. He designed a long series of houses for the rich and the very rich, and various public, institutional, and religious buildings, some of which can be found...

 (1853–1906) considered Silloway's Vermont State House to be the finest example of the Greek Revival style in the United States.

Interiors, furnishings, and decorative arts

The State House contains two primary floors accessible by a pair of circular stairways opening into the ground-floor Cross Hall. An elevator is also available. The Entrance Hall is of the Greek Ionic order
Ionic order
The Ionic order forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian...

 and flanked by portraits of Presidents Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

 and Chester A. Arthur
Chester A. Arthur
Chester Alan Arthur was the 21st President of the United States . Becoming President after the assassination of President James A. Garfield, Arthur struggled to overcome suspicions of his beginnings as a politician from the New York City Republican machine, succeeding at that task by embracing...

, both native to Vermont. The tall double front doors were painted and then coated with a metallic powder to appear as bronze during 1859. The Entrance Hall contains a portrait of Montpelier native Admiral George Dewey
George Dewey
George Dewey was an admiral of the United States Navy. He is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War...

 on the bridge of his flagship during the Battle of Manila Bay. The Vermont State House does not have a rotunda, the dome being located almost directly above the ceiling of Representatives Hall on the second floor. The principal public room is the Hall of Inscriptions, a Doric pilastered corridor featuring eight monumental marble tablets incised with quotations about the distinct nature of Vermont's culture and heritage. The tablets quote the Vermont Constitution, Ethan Allen
Ethan Allen
Ethan Allen was a farmer, businessman, land speculator, philosopher, writer, and American Revolutionary War patriot, hero, and politician. He is best known as one of the founders of the U.S...

, Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

, George Aiken
George Aiken
George David Aiken was an American politician from Vermont. A Republican, he served as the 64th Governor of Vermont from 1937 to 1941 and as a U.S. Senator from 1941 to 1975...

, Warren Austin
Warren Austin
Warren Robinson Austin was an American politician and statesman; among other roles, he served as Senator from Vermont....

, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Dorothy Canfield Fisher was an educational reformer, social activist, and best-selling American author in the early decades of the twentieth century. She was named by Eleanor Roosevelt as one of the ten most influential women in the United States...

 among others. Each tablet features fourteen gilded stars, representing Vermont's fourteen counties, the state's fourteen years as an independent republic, and being the fourteenth state to join the federal Union. The four corners of each tablet feature a sheath of grain, a detail found in the Great Seal of Vermont, designed by Ira Allen
Ira Allen
Ira Allen was one of the founders of Vermont, and leaders of the Green Mountain Boys; and was the brother of Ethan Allen.-Biography:...


The ceremonial office of the Governor of Vermont
Governor of Vermont
The Governor of Vermont is the governor of the U.S. state of Vermont. The governor is elected in even numbered years by direct voting for a term of two years; Vermont and bordering New Hampshire are the only states to hold gubernatorial elections every two years, instead of every four...

, used during legislative sessions for meetings and bill-signings, is located in the second-floor west wing of the building. The Executive Chamber has been restored to its 1859 appearance with pediment hooded windows supported by Italianate
Italianate architecture
The Italianate style of architecture was a distinct 19th-century phase in the history of Classical architecture. In the Italianate style, the models and architectural vocabulary of 16th-century Italian Renaissance architecture, which had served as inspiration for both Palladianism and...

-style brackets, and gilded Rococo Revival drapery cornice
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.The function of the projecting...

s. A Wilton style carpet colored crimson, azure blue and gold was rewoven as part of the restoration. The Vermont Governor's working office and private apartments are located nearby at The Pavilion, built in Second Empire style and located just east of the Vermont Supreme Court
Vermont Supreme Court
The Vermont Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority of the U.S. state of Vermont and is one of seven state courts of Vermont.The Court consists of a chief justice and four associate justices; the Court mostly hears appeals of cases that have been decided by other courts...

. Portraits of Vermont governors (including Howard Dean
Howard Dean
Howard Brush Dean III is an American politician and physician from Vermont. He served six terms as the 79th Governor of Vermont and ran unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. Although his U.S...

, who is shown in an idiosyncratic pose in a canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

 amid a natural setting) are displayed through the first and second floors of the State House, the corridors of which are a sort of state portrait gallery, commemorating famous Vermonters.

The two chambers of the Vermont General Assembly are on the second floor. While both chambers have overhead visitors' galleries accessible on a third-floor mezzanine
Mezzanine may refer to:* Mezzanine , an intermediate floor between main floors of a building* Mezzanine, in technology, can refer to a thin sheet of plastic insulating different parts of circuitry from each other in cramped environments, such as laptop interiors* Mezzanine board, or daughterboard,...

, visitors are welcome to quietly enter and sit in the main floor of the chambers. Contrary to the tradition of decorating the upper house in red and the lower house in green, established by the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 and House of Commons in the United Kingdom, Vermont reserves the state colors of green and gold for its upper house, the Vermont Senate
Vermont Senate
The Vermont Senate is the upper house of the Vermont General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Vermont. The Senate consists of 30 members. Senate districting divides the 30 members into three single-member districts, six two-member districts, three three-member districts, and one...

. Red and gold is used for the Vermont House of Representatives
Vermont House of Representatives
The Vermont House of Representatives is the lower house of the Vermont General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Vermont. The House comprises 150 members. Vermont legislative districting divides representing districts into 66 single-member districts and 42 two-member...

 which meets in Representatives Hall. A large plaster ceiling medallion in the center of the chamber in the form of a lotus with a center rosette
Rosette (design)
A rosette is a round, stylized flower design, used extensively in sculptural objects from antiquity. Appearing in Mesopotamia and used to decorate the funeral stele in Ancient Greece...

 of acanthus
Acanthus (ornament)
The acanthus is one of the most common plant forms to make foliage ornament and decoration.-Architecture:In architecture, an ornament is carved into stone or wood to resemble leaves from the Mediterranean species of the Acanthus genus of plants, which have deeply cut leaves with some similarity to...

 leaves hold a two-tiered electrified gasolier manufactured in Philadelphia by Cornelius and Baker. Each petal of the rosette weighs approximately 500 pounds. Brilliant axminster
Axminster is a market town and civil parish on the eastern border of Devon in England. The town is built on a hill overlooking the River Axe which heads towards the English Channel at Axmouth, and is in the East Devon local government district. It has a population of 5,626. The market is still...

 carpets have been recreated for both chambers based on old stereoscope views and small scraps found in an attic. On either side of the rostrum
A podium is a platform that is used to raise something to a short distance above its surroundings. It derives from the Greek πόδι In architecture a building can rest on a large podium. Podia can also be used to raise people, for instance the conductor of an orchestra stands on a podium as do many...

 in Representatives Hall, are a series of connected elliptical-backed seats designed to fill the north wall of the chamber. The seats are upholstered and tufted in crimson and are used to seat members of the Vermont Senate during joint sessions of the General Assembly. The seats also accommodate the justices of the State's supreme court for the Governor's State of the State address
State of the State Address
The State of the State Address is a speech customarily given once each year by the governors of most states of the United States. The speech is customarily delivered before both houses of the state legislature sitting in joint session, with the exception of the Nebraska Legislature, which is a...

 and the inauguration of governors. Citizens frequently occupy these seats when the House is in separate session, or for large public hearings.
The second floor of the west wing includes the Cedar Creek Room, a large reception room featuring a mural painted by Julian Scott
Julian Scott
Julian A. Scott , he was born in Johnson, Vermont, and served as a Union Army drummer during the American Civil War where he received America's highest military decoration the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Lee's Mills; he was also an American painter and Civil War...

 during 1874. The mural nearly fills the south wall and depicts the Battle of Cedar Creek
Battle of Cedar Creek
The Battle of Cedar Creek, or Battle of Belle Grove, October 19, 1864, was one of the final, and most decisive, battles in the Valley Campaigns of 1864 during the American Civil War. The final Confederate invasion of the North, led by Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early, was effectively ended...

 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. The painting highlights the contributions of Vermont troops in the battle. The room is illuminated by two stained glass
Stained glass
The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings...

Skylight may refer to:* Skylight * Skylight , by David Hare* Skylight of a lava tube, a hole in the ceiling of the tube* Skylight, Arkansas* Skylight, a short film by David Clayton Rogers* Skylight Pictures, a film company...

s in the deeply coffer
A coffer in architecture, is a sunken panel in the shape of a square, rectangle, or octagon in a ceiling, soffit or vault...

ed ceiling dating to 1859 when the room housed the State Library. At some time the skylight was broken, and the opening closed. During 1970, while doing renovation work, workers discovered the broken pieces neatly stacked in the attic above the room. The pieces were reassembled, conserved, and reinstalled during the mid-1980s. One window (shown at left) depicts the obverse of the coat of arms of Vermont
Coat of arms of Vermont
The coat of arms of Vermont is the official armorial bearings of the U.S. state of Vermont. Most of the elements found in the coat of arms originate in the Great Seal of Vermont designed by Ira Allen...

, which is a more painterly armorial representation of the Great Seal of Vermont (reserved solely for embossing documents), the arms are topped by the head of a buck white-tailed deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

 and circled by branches of Eastern White Pine
Eastern White Pine
Pinus strobus, commonly known as the eastern white pine, is a large pine native to eastern North America, occurring from Newfoundland west to Minnesota and southeastern Manitoba, and south along the Appalachian Mountains to the northern edge of Georgia.It is occasionally known as simply white pine,...

 (Pinus strobus). Pine badges were worn as an expression of Vermont identity by citizens while the state was a republic, and again during the American Civil War by Vermont's military regiments. The other skylight features the rarely seen reverse of the state coat of arms, a female personification of the state referred to as "Vermontannia." The wall stencils in the Cedar Creek Room are the original patterns, recreated based upon old photographs, and the colors were matched by paint analysis. It is seated among sheaths of corn and wheat, representing Vermont's agricultural history. This room is restored to its 1888 appearance when the room was converted from the State Library to use as a governor's reception room. The walls, and 20-foot ceilings are polychrome
Polychrome is one of the terms used to describe the use of multiple colors in one entity. It has also been defined as "The practice of decorating architectural elements, sculpture, etc., in a variety of colors." Polychromatic light is composed of a number of different wavelengths...

 painted in a complex palette of tertiary colors: burnish
Burnishing is a form of pottery treatment in which the surface of the pot is polished, using a hard smooth surface such as a wooden or bone spatula, smooth stones, plastic, or even glass bulbs, while it still is in a leathery 'green' state, i.e., before firing. After firing, the surface is...

ed copper
Copper (color)
Copper is a reddish brown color that resembles the metal copper.At right is displayed the color copper.The first recorded use of copper as a color name in English was in 1594.-Pale copper:...

, russet
Russet (color)
Russet is a dark brown color with a reddish-orange tinge.The first recorded use of russet as a color name in English was in 1562.The source of this color is the ISCC-NBS Dictionary of Color Names --Color dictionary used by stamp collectors to identify the colors of stampsThe name of the color...

, salmon
Salmon (color)
Salmon a range of pale pinkish-orange to light pink colors, named after the color of salmon flesh.The web color salmon is displayed at right.The first recorded use of salmon as a color name in English was in 1776...

, and a deep blue-green
Blue-green is a color that is a representation of the color that is between blue and green on a typical traditional old-fashioned RYB color wheel.Blue-green is belongs to the cyan family of colors....

 with overlays of metallic stencilling. The style is largely of the Aesthetic Movement
Aestheticism was a 19th century European art movement that emphasized aesthetic values more than socio-political themes for literature, fine art, the decorative arts, and interior design...


Most of the furnishings in the building date to the 1859 reconstruction of the State House, including the 30 black walnut chairs in the Vermont Senate
Vermont Senate
The Vermont Senate is the upper house of the Vermont General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Vermont. The Senate consists of 30 members. Senate districting divides the 30 members into three single-member districts, six two-member districts, three three-member districts, and one...

 chamber, still used for the same purpose today. Several American Empire-style sofas, a set of klismos
A klismos or klismos chair is a type of ancient Greek chair, familiar from depictions on painted pottery and in bas-reliefs from the mid-fifth century BCE onwards...

 chairs, carved black walnut Renaissance Revival-style chairs for the Senate President and House Speaker, and suites of Rococo Revival settées and chairs also date to the completion of Silloway's reconstruction. The majority of the lighting fixtures in the building are original, restored and electrified ormolu
Ormolu is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-karat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze. The mercury is driven off in a kiln...

Gas lighting
Gas lighting is production of artificial light from combustion of a gaseous fuel, including hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide, propane, butane, acetylene, ethylene, or natural gas. Before electricity became sufficiently widespread and economical to allow for general public use, gas was the most...

 chandeliers and wall sconces manufactured in Philadelphia by Cornelius and Baker during the 1850s. The large two-tiered, 26-light chandelier in Representatives Hall features sculptures of mythological figures, including a copy of Vermont sculptor Hiram Powers
Hiram Powers
Hiram Powers was an American neoclassical sculptor.-Biography:The son of a farmer, Powers was born in Woodstock, Vermont, on the July 29, 1805. In 1818 his father moved to Ohio, about six miles from Cincinnati, where the son attended school for about a year, staying meanwhile with his brother, a...

' The Greek Slave
The Greek Slave
The Greek Slave is a marble statue in Raby Castle, carved in Florence by American sculptor Hiram Powers in 1844. Copies of the statue were displayed in a number of venues around Great Britain and the United States, and it quickly became one of Powers' most famous and most popular works...

, which became an abolitionist
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 icon. Only the large portrait of George Washington, painted c. 1837 by George Gassner after Gilbert Stuart
Gilbert Stuart
Gilbert Charles Stuart was an American painter from Rhode Island.Gilbert Stuart is widely considered to be one of America's foremost portraitists...

, which hangs above the speaker's chair in Representatives Hall, survived the fire of 1857.

Use of the Vermont State House

Vermont's reputation for popular government is represented by the State House's nickname "the People's House." While its primary use is as the house of the legislative branch of Vermont government, it has from its beginnings also functioned as a living museum and state cultural facility.

The building is open to visitors with remarkably few restrictions whether the legislature is in session or not. The large Representatives Hall is used for evening concerts named "Farmers Nights" during winter months. During warmer weather, the public lawn on the south side is used for concerts by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra
Vermont Symphony Orchestra
The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is a symphony orchestra based in, and supported in part by, the U.S. state of Vermont. It is a 501 corporation. It is one of the few, and the oldest, state-supported symphony orchestras in the United States....

, municipal bands from around the state, marching regimental bagpipe
Bagpipes are a class of musical instrument, aerophones, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Though the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe and Irish uilleann pipes have the greatest international visibility, bagpipes of many different types come from...

 tattoos, modern dance concerts, as well as to provide space for local residents to sit, eat, and play sports. Quilt
A quilt is a type of bed cover, traditionally composed of three layers of fiber: a woven cloth top, a layer of batting or wadding and a woven back, combined using the technique of quilting. “Quilting” refers to the technique of joining at least two fabric layers by stitches or ties...

s, ceramics, photography and paintings by citizens periodically hang in the building's corridors, committee and caucus rooms, and dining room.

During recent years, each February 14 the columns of the portico and lawn are bedecked with red paper hearts by the so-called Valentine Phantom
Valentine Phantom
The Valentine Phantom, often referred to as the Valentine Bandit in media reports, refers to an individual or group who each Valentine's Day secretly decorate the downtown area of a city with a flurry of red hearts printed on sheets of letter-sized paper...

. Additionally, the public lawn and steps of the portico serve as a well-used platform for peaceful demonstrations, press conferences by various official and non-official groups, and for formally welcoming official visitors to the State of Vermont.

Further reading

  • Conti, Flavio. The Focus on Democracy. HBJ Press, division of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.: 1977.
  • Doyle, William T. The Vermont Political Tradition and Those Who Helped Make It. Doyle: 1987.
  • Federal Writers' Project. Vermont: A Guide to the Green Mountain State. Houghton Mifflin Company: 1937.
  • Goodsell, Charles T. The American Statehouse: Interpreting Democracy's Temples. University Press of Kansas: 2001.
  • Kennedy, Roger G. Greek Revival America. Stewart Tabori & Chang: 1989.
  • Morrissey, Charles T. "The Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier: Symbol of the Green Mountain State." The Magazine Antiques. October 1984: 891-899.
  • Merrill, Perry H. Montpelier: The Capital City's History: 1780-1976. self published: 1976.
  • Nye, Mary Greene. Vermont's State House. The State of Vermont Department of Conservation and Development, Publicity Service: 1931.
  • Peck, Amelia. American Revival Styles, 1840-1876. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 2003.
  • Robbins, Daniel. The Vermont State House: A History and Guide. The Vermont State House Preservation Committee: 1980.
  • Scott, Pamela. Temple of Liberty. Oxford University Press, Library of Congress: 1995.
  • Sudjic, Deyan, and Helen Jones. Architecture and Democracy. Laurence King Publishing: 2001.
  • Thrane, Susan W. and Tom Patterson. State Houses: America's 50 State Capitol Buildings. The Boston Mills Press: 2005.
  • Zieber, Eugene, Heraldry in America: The Civic Armorial Bearings of American States. Greenwich House: 1974.

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