Located in downtown Topeka, the Kansas State Capitol is an architectural treasure. Built on a foundation of native limestone, this beautiful building took thirty-seven years to develop and finally completed in 1903. A visit to the state Capitol is educational, exciting, and affordable. With so many things to do and exhibits to see, the whole family will walk away with a better idea of how the state was founded and on what principles.
The twenty-acre site was donated by Cyrus K. Holliday, president of the Topeka Town Company and one of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway founders. Construction began in 1866, but the stone selected for construction didn’t harden as it should, and after the winter of 1867, the foundation crumbled. Limestone from Geary County replaced the foundation and construction continued on the east wing.
Limestone from Cottonwood Falls comprises the west wing and other parts of the building. Construction on the north and south wings didn’t begin until 1883. When the building was completed, the total cost amounted to $3.2 million.
The Capitol building symbolizes pride in Kansas’ path to statehood and hopes for the future. The founders intended the statehouse to be used for daily business of the state government, and a major renovation in 2014 returned the Capitol to its original beauty.
The architecture, murals, statues, and other artwork are on display for visitors daily, and an online tour gives an overview of each floor and its highlights. Included in the Capitol building are classrooms and auditoriums for learning experiences, as well as exhibits on the history of the state government and the building itself.
The lobby floor depicts all 105 counties in the state of Kansas, and the map is situated to reflect accurately the cardinal directions. The images on the wall are reproductions of early 20th century Kansas postcards, and the stone in the lobby is limestone quarried in Kansas.
Photographs in the auditorium reflect the diversity of Kansas’s heritage from immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries, who brought their Old-World traditions with them. These traditions continue today among Kansas’ growing population of 2.9 million people from a variety of origins.
The people of a young Kansas, even amid financial trouble, set out to build a Capitol building rivaling that of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Displayed in the construction hall are tools used by the stonemasons during construction. Other historical items from the most recent restoration are on display as well.
Kansas Walk of Honor- Located on the sidewalk outside the Kansas State Capitol grounds, the Kansas Walk of Honor pays tribute to people who have contributed to either the state or national government who have significant connections to Kansas. It’s a Hollywood Walk of Fame for Kansans and is a beautiful way to spend the afternoon outside, picnicking and enjoying the Kansas weather.
Kansas Day- Every year, Kansas Day is celebrated in Topeka with an awards ceremony and results from the Happy Birthday, Kansas! photo contest. The University of Kansas Chamber Singers perform, and the Kansas City cake is presented. Everyone can enjoy cake in celebration of the state’s birthday.
Schools participate in Kansas Day as a learning opportunity for students to visit the Capitol and study the state’s history. Historical tours and dome tours are available for large groups on this day.
Shopping and Dining
The Capitol Store sells gifts and souvenirs related to Kansas and the Capitol building. Arts and crafts, posters, books, clothing, collectibles, and toys all make the perfect gift or reminder of a day at the Capitol. Also available are items made from the old Capitol copper including jewelry.
Downtown Topeka offers a variety of dining experiences all within a few blocks of the Capitol building. Visitors can enjoy eating some tasty Kansas barbecue at Lonnie Q’s, and then walk a few blocks to relax while having dessert at Hazel Hill Chocolate.
Lonnie Q’s- While visiting Topeka, try Lonnie Q’s BBQ for traditional Midwest smoked meats, baked beans, and unique flavor. A hidden gem off the beaten path, Lonnie Q’s offers excellent BBQ at an affordable price and will round out any visit to this beautiful state’s capital.
Hazel Hill Chocolate- When guests are done filling their barbecue urge, they can stroll down the street to Hazel Hill Chocolate to satisfy their sweet tooth. This chocolate shop provides delicious homemade delicacies, while letting customers view them as they are being made. Everyone will find something they can enjoy as Hazel Hill Chocolate offers caramel apples, hand-crafted truffles, butter toffee popcorn, and many other treats.
Kansas State Capitol 6425 SW 6th Ave Topeka, KS 66615, Phone: 785-272-8681