Cupolas of Capitalism
State Capitol Building Histories

States from P to S

South Elevation.

View of the Rhode Island State Capitol Building.
Photograph by Howard J. Partridge.

States with Capitol Buildings featuring prominent exterior cupolas are highlighted in yellow.  Historical information appearing on this page comes from the same sources acknowledged on the first page of this gallery.

Click on any picture to see an enlarged version, or to view the other historic images available in the Cupolas of Capitalism Picture Gallery.  Note as previously mentioned, the 3D links from Google and MS Bing may require a browser plug-in and repeated loading to display correctly.

Pennsylvania Harrisburg Current State Capitol at N. 3rd & State Streets / bird's eye view rotated to show front from MS Bing; street and maybe forthcoming 3D view from Google Maps; and 3D model from 3D Warehouse.

1894, Old Museum Building constructed, part of current Capitol complex / John T. Windrim.

1898-1902, design and construction of current Capitol Building begun but never completed / Henry Ives Cobb.

1902-06, Cobb walls and parts of superstructure incorporated in new Capitol Building design / Joseph M. Huston, who is later fined and sent to prison for half a year on charges of involvement in fraudulent construction charges.

1916-21, South Office Building added / Arnold W. Brunner.

1929, North Office Building completed, flanking the east side of the original capitol / Arnold W. Brunner.

1931, Forum Building completed, extending flanking buildings on east side / William Gehron & Sidney F. Ross.

1939, North Office Building No. 2 (Finance Building) completed, opposite Forum building / ? architect.

ca. 1946, Alterations to capitol building's east Elevation (extending wings?) / William Gehron.

1980-87, previous buildings connected with new East Wing and underground parking / Thomas C. Celli (Celli-Flynn Associates).

1981-present, ongoing capitol restoration / Vitetta.
Old State Capitol in Philadelphia, PA, Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut St. / bird's eye view from MS Bing; street and 3D view from Google Maps; and 3D model from 3D Warehouse.

While Cupola usually limits its coverage to old and new capitols still standing in the current capital city, Independence Hall merits special mention here.  As a former state house, U.S. capitol, and site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it is a national treasure.  Its majestic tiered cupola tower once housed the Liberty Bell.  More info on this old capitol is available with a brief building history from; an article from Wikipedia; and visitor's info from the National Park Service.  Many other photos and drawings of the building are available from the Historic American Buildings Survey at the Library of Congress
Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. Historic postcard image courtesy of Chris Miller.
Italian and French Renaissance Revival capitol
.  Central circular drum tower capped with dome and cupola is a half scale replica of St. Peter's in Rome.  272 feet tall from ground to top of crowning statue.  Post Modern East Wing.  The cupola is capped with a statue officially named Commonwealth, and locally known to some as Miss Penn or Letitia.  More info offsite at the official Pennsylvania Capitol website, with visitor info, building photos, and a virtual tour.  The Capitol Preservation Committee provides info about the capitol's ongoing restoration and preservation work, a building F.A.Q., and historical notes about the building and the people behind it.  An outstanding photo album is also available from photographer Edward Crim.
Rhode Island Providence
(Old State House & New State Capitol)
Old State House at 150 Benefit St. (between N. Court & S. Court Streets) / bird's eye view rotated to show historic front from MS Bing; street and 3D view from Google Maps.

1759-71, Old State House (a.k.a. Colony House) designed and built (mostly complete by 1762).  Now headquarters of Rhode Island's Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission / ? architect. HABS report mentions Allan Brown, William Smith, David Harris, Daniel Jenckes, & William Wheaton on building committees.

1840, renovation (mostly lost to later renovations) / Russell Warren.

1850-51, major remodel includes interior alterations, the removal of the original central 2 story roof tower cupola, and the addition of a new projecting entrance with tower and belfry centered on the west facade / Thomas Tefft.

1867, East Wing added / James C. Bucklin (a Library of Congress source credits Alfred E. Stone with this instead).

1877-83, renovation and interior alterations / Alfred E. Stone of Stone & Carpenter; and after 1881, Stone, Carpenter, & Willson.

1975-present, miscellaneous restoration projects to Old State House.  Roof balustrade reinstalled, Council Chamber restored, and belfry rebuilt.  In 1988, first floor courtroom, stair tower, and hallways repainted in historic colors palette / ? architect(s) working with the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission.
New State Capitol at 82 Smith St. (between Gaspee & Francis Streets) / bird's eye view rotated to show North Front from MS Bing; street and 3D view from Google Maps; and 3D model from 3D Warehouse.

1895-1904, New State Capitol designed and constructed.  Legislature begins holding its sessions in the new capitol in 1901 / Charles Follen McKim, William Rutherford McKim, and Stanford White (McKim, Mead, and White).

1987-89, exterior stone cleaning, restoration and repairs to New State Capitol / ? architect.

1992-2003, restoration of New State Capitol.  Projects include restorations of State Reception Room and Governor's Office, State Library, House and Senate chambers, rotunda and grand stair, and exterior marble terraces and stairs.  Also ADA compliance, electrical, and fire safety work / Domenic Carbone, Jr., AIA, and Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels, Architects.
Historic photo of the Old Rhode Island State House (a.k.a. the Colony House in Providence). From the Library of Congress's Historic American Buildings Survey.
Old State House is a Colonial structure
with influences of the late English Baroque.  Its 19C entry tower addition has a square cupola top.  More info offsite with this photo essay from the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission.

Rhode Island State House. Historic postcard image courtesy of Chris Miller.
New State Capitol is in the Italian Renaissance Revival style
.  Central circular drum tower capped with dome and cupola.  4 smaller domed cupolas adjacent to main dome.  Capped with a statue named Independent Man.  From architect's scale drawings, approx. 225 feet tall from top of terrace to tip of crowning statue's spear.  More info offsite with an official virtual tour from the office of Rhode Island's Secretary of State, which offers an activity book in Adobe Acrobat format and visitor's info as well.  A previous virtual tour lives on thanks to the Internet Archive.  A chatty alternative building guide is also available from the website.  Many other building pictures are available from photographer Edward Crim, and from this based, group photo album.
South Carolina Columbia 1100 Gervais St. (at Main St.) / bird's eye view rotated to show North Front from MS Bing; street and 3D view from Google Maps; and 3D model from 3D Warehouse.

1854-65, Capitol designed and construction begun / Major John Rudolph Niernsee (previous 1851-54 project by P.H. Hammerskold removed after materials and structure are found unsuitable).

1865, town burned by General Sherman, but building survives with considerable damage to the interior, but only minor damage to the exterior.  Construction halted.

1885, construction resumes / Major John R. Niernsee, who dies in 1885.

1885-88, construction continues / James Crawford Neilson, Niernsee's associate.

1888-1891, construction continues on interiors (suspended after 1891) / Francis (Frank) McHenry Niernsee, Niernsee's son.

1900-03, roof replaced, dome, north and south porticos built to a modified design.  Declared essentially complete in 1903 / Frank Pierce Milburn, who is later sued by the state in what eventually is declared a mistrial and not retried.

1904-07, construction repairs and interior work completed / Charles Coker Wilson.

1913, Senate chamber remodeled / ? architect.

1937, House of Representatives chamber remodeled / ? architect.

1959-60, air conditioning installed / ? architect.

1962, lobby renovation / ? architect.

1966, redesign of Governor's Office / ? architect.

1991-98, major renovation project planned and executed.  Included restoration of Senate and House chambers, dome and lobby, halls and marble floors.  Also included ADA compliance work, structural and seismic improvements, and new electrical and mechanical systems / Stephens & Wilkinson, Inc., Architects and Engineers.
South Carolina State Capitol Building. Historic postcard image courtesy of Chris Miller.
Italian Renaissance Revival capitol building
, featuring a central circular drum tower capped with dome and cupola.  Approx. 180 feet tall.  More info offsite with this official webguide from the state legislature, and visitor info from the South Carolina State Parks.  A history of the capitol and its renovation is available from, which also features video footage and a virtual tour.  The architects of the recent restoration offer project photos and a short description.  An extensive photo gallery is available from professional photographer Edward Crim.
South Dakota Pierre 500 E. Capitol Ave. (at N. Nicollet Ave.) / aerial view and bird's eye view (in one direction, other directions may be forthcoming); street and maybe a forthcoming 3D view from Google Maps; and 3D model from 3D Warehouse.

1905-10, Capitol designed and built / Charles E. Bell and Menno S. Detweiler.

1932, annex addition to north face completed / ? architect(s).

1952, modernization of Supreme Court chamber; ceilings lowered and walls paneled over / ? architect.

1975-91, major multi-phased historic restoration.  Supreme Court chamber restored to original appearance early in the project / Koch Hazard Architects.
General view of the South Dakota State Capitol Building. Photo courtesy of Pat and Debbi Furrie, taken in June of 2003.
Greek and Italian Renaissance Revival style statehouse
.  Central circular drum tower capped with copper dome and cupola.  161 feet tall.  More offsite from the Capitol Tour Office, which offers visitor info, building exhibits. and a virtual tour.  An earlier version of the virtual tour is available from the Internet Archive.  The South Dakota Public Broadcasting website offers extensive coverage of the building and its history with videos, photos, and more.  A building summary is available from the National Park Service.  More photos of the capitol are available from Edward Crim.

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