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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

 Term Project: Utah State Capitol

The state of Utah was founded in 1896 and became the 45th state of the United States. At present, the state of Utah has a population of more than 3 million people registered in the last census of the year 2016 and has 62 % of its inhabitants reported as a members of the Church of Latter-day Saint or LDS. According to the U.S Census Bureau estimated that “Utah had the second faster- growing population of any state.” Like all states of the United States, Utah has a capitol building which is very significant for the history of the United States.

The Capitol building itself reflects the history of America’s growing and fighting for the rights of the American people. The Utah State Capitol is the house of government for the U.S. state of Utah. The Governor state legislature asking for the creation of a new commission to oversee the construction of a capital in 1910. The Utah State Capitol Building has four floors. In this beautiful place, we can find Symbols, Hall of Governors & State Seal, West Gallery, Rotunda, Cyclorama & Pendentive Murals, niches sculptures, Lunettes, Brigham Young monument, State Reception room, Governor’s suite, Supreme Court chamber, Senate and House chamber.

In 1850, Utah is created as a territory of the United States with the city of Fillmore designed as the capitol. In1855 the Fillmore Capital construction ends. Only one wing of the structure was completed. In1856, the Legislature designates Salt Lake City, more centrally located, to be the capital city of the territory. 1866 The Legislature begins meeting in the newly-completed Salt Lake City Hall. In 1988, Salt Lake City donated nearly 20 acres of land to the Utah Territory for the construction of a Statehouse. However, it was not until 1909 that Utah could fund the building of the Capitol. Utah was receiving around $800,000 when the Union Pacific Railroad President E.H. passed away.1 The Utah architect Richard Karl August Klentting plans incorporated modern methods and materials, including steel-reinforced concrete, electric lighting, and elevators. The building was dedicated in October 1916. 2 From 2004 to 2008 a massive renovation to the Utah State Capitol Started. This restoration was to protect the Capitol against earthquake damage and to restore its historic beauty.

Kletting’s design for the capitol draws upon ancient Greek and Roman roots. This designed have become architecturally symbolic of American democracy. Fifteen -two Corinthian columns made out of local granite quarried from little Cottonwood Canyon line the outside of the building. The Capitols interior walls and columns is made out of the Georgia marble.3 This building has many details and symbols. The most important symbols are Laurel wreaths- Symbolic of victory, vitality, and success. Another symbol is the Lions, symbolic of pride, strength, royal authority, protection, courage, wisdom and others more. In addition, another important symbol are the beehive, there are the Utah’s state emblem, symbolic of industry, diligence, purity, sociability and unity. 4

First Floor

In the first level of the Capitols, we can see the Hall of Governor & State Seal, the West Gallery and a small visitor center. In each corner of the first floor, there are offices. The Hall of Governor displays biographies of Utah’s past governors. A gift to utah in celebration of the 100th birthday of the people’s house, the great Seal of the State of Utah lays in the center of the hall. This Seal represented Utah’s diverse countries, 29 medallions line the perimeter of the seal.5 The West Gallery displays showcasing aspects of Utah’s unique culture and heritage. Artifacts, images, and historical information on display bring to life Utah’s past and present.

Second Floor

The building’s second floor, which are referred as the main floor, has retained much of its historic appearance over the years. In this floor, we found Rotunda, Cyclorama & Pendentives Murals, Niche Sculptures, Lunettes, Brigham Young monumental, State Reception Room and Governor’s Suite. The rotunda occupies the center of the building, under the dome. The rotunda serves as the backdrop for many public, private, and government events. The designs of the rotunda illustrate the life, work and accomplishment of the early Utah settlers such as the liberty flag, dancing, seagulls protecting the pioneer’s crops from the crickets, the relationship with the Native Americans and the mining industry. The circular cyclorama depicts scenes from 19th century Utah life. The pendentives on the large piers are home to four paintings depicting the earliest nom-active explorations into the region. 6

At the bottom of the pendatives surrounding the rotunda they are the niches sculptures. There are four niches sculptures, which symbolize values, hope, timelessness, wisdom and ideals fundamental to Utah’s culture. “Eugene Daub, Robert Firming, and Jonah Hendrickson where the three artists that created the statues”. 7 The niches represented the Immigration & Settlement, Land & Community, Science & Technology and Arts & Education. Each one has approximately 11-feet tall.

Lunettes, The half-moon shaped paintings at each end of the large, vaulted atrium were among the first commissioned artworks installed in the Capitol. The west mural is title the passing of the Wagons and the east is called Madonna of the covered Wagon. Also in this floor, we found a monumental of bronze of Brigham Young, which was the Utah’s first territorial governor.

The State Reception room or Gold room is also located in the second floor. It is call Gold room because of its lavish furnishings and gold leafing, was designed to accommodate formal state functions. The majority of furnishings and furniture in this room have been imported from Europe such as the Russian walnut table and several chairs. The only office located in the West is the Governor’s office. It features a Beaux Arts ceiling mural title Children at play by the New York artist Lewis Schettle. The governor’s suite is the last room located in this floor. This suite consists of staff offices, conference rooms, a reception area, and both a ceremonial office and a working office for the Governor. In 1999, The Salt Lake valley was struck by a tornado. The fallen trees where turned into the Governor’s desk, which is located in his public office. The desk is a symbol of Utah’s spirit and determination. This desk is a reminder that something good can come from a disaster.

Third Floor

The third level is also known as the legislative floor, contains the Supreme Court, Senate and house Chamber. The Supreme Court is located at the Far East of the building. It is the highest court of appeal in the state judicial system. This area currently used only for ceremonial purposes. It is made up of five justices appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. It was relocated so most of the court’s business can be conducted now in the Scott M. Matheson Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City. 8 The Senate chamber is located in the northern part of the center wing northern part of the center wing. It is a body of twenty-nine individuals elected to four-year terms, each serving a district of 100,000 citizens. Senators sits facing north, towards the speaker. 9 In 1916, the Senate Chambers multi-paneled landscape of Utah Lake was painted. In 2006, the landscape of northern Utah was commissioned. The Senate and House meet in their respective chambers for 45 days beginning on the fourth Monday of January.

At the end of the West atrium area is the entrance to the House of Representative. The house of representatives shares responsibility with the Senate for creating the laws of the State. The house is composed of seventy-five members, who serve two- year’s terms, and represent approximately 29,000 citizens each10. It are decorated with significant artwork. There are two murals painting in the north and south walls, those painting are important events in Utah’s history that shaped the future of the state.

Fourth Floor

In level four, we found the Gallery. Before the capitol restoration, that level was narrow by hallway and rows of offices, but now includes an expansive gallery space overlooking the Rotunda. The gallery features rotating art exhibits and a close up view of the Rotundas cyclorama and pendentive murals. Much of the floor is open to floors below, allowing looking down on the third of second floors.

Utah’s Capitol building, located on a hill overlooking downtown Salt Lake City, is an elegant architectural masterpiece. The building is set on over 40 acres, with beautifully maintained and sculpted lawns, trees, flowerbeds, and shrubs. From the south steps, Yoshino cherry trees can be viewed circling the drive. From the front steps, you see a spectacular view of the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains, and Salt Lake City below. By doing this tour, I found history and passion on the walls of this beautiful place. Where many memories of the pioneers and are extremely hard to understand what thing happen in those years for change many things in those times. However, thanks to them, we have freedom in our lives and we are in the plenty of evolution.


Work Cited

1 “The Pacific Railway.” A Brief History of the Pacific Railway – The Transcontinental Railroad. Accessed April 03, 2018.

2 “Capitol Building.” Accessed April 03, 2018.

3 “6 Fun Facts About the Utah State Capitol.” Temple Square. October 06, 2017. Accessed April 03, 2018.

4 Slater, S. (2002). The Complete Book of Heraldry an International History of Heraldry and Its Contemporary Uses. New York: Anness Publishing Inc. for Lorenz Books.

5 “Centennial Seal Mosaic.” Utah State Capitol. Accessed April 03, 2018.

6 “165-foot Rotunda: Fotografía De Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City.” TripAdvisor. Accessed April 01, 2018. Salt_Lake_City_Utah.html.

7 Capitol Preservation Board. The Rotunda Niche Statues. Accessed March 30, 2018.

8 “Utah Supreme Court.” Ballotpedia. Accessed April 01, 2018.

9 “Senate Chamber.” Architect of the Capitol | United States Capitol. Accessed April 02, 2018.

10 “House Members.” Utah House of Representatives. Accessed April 03, 2018. members/.


Photographs taken inside Utah State CapitolPhotographs taken inside Utah State CapitolPhotographs taken inside Utah State Capitol

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