Surrounded by ten acres of state buildings and spacious lawns the Montana State Capitol situated on a gentle slope overlooking the Prickly Pear Valley. Walking through the Capitol building, visitors can see numerous stunning paintings. One such painting is the amazing historical depiction by Charles M. Russell, Montana's most famous artist, of the Lewis and Clark meeting the Indians on September 5, 1805 at Ross' Hole.
Visitors today are drawn at first to the Montana State Capitol's prominent position atop the hill and its massive copper dome. On top of the building's copper dome sits a statue depicting Liberty, called the Goddess of Liberty. There is no record of the statue's shipment to the site of the building or why it was even made. The building, which was completed in the beginning of the twentieth century, followed the Greek neo-classical architecture style with a massive dome at the top. The building's main section was finished in 1902, with the two wings completed in 1912. The structure is built with granite and sandstone.
Guests to the Montana State Capitol building are able to explore the Peoples House. Upon entering, visitors are greeted by an expansive rotunda. Decorating the rotunda area are four giant paintings, depicting a cowboy, gold miner, explorer, and Native American. When the rooms aren't in use, tours of the State Capitol include the governor's office, the state's courtroom, and the legislative branch wings. One of the building's main attractions is the painting featuring Lewis and Clark by Charles Russell. The painting, which hangs in the House of Representatives above the speaker's chair, is twenty-five feet wide and twelve feet high.
Guided tours of the Montana State Capitol focus on art, architecture, function, and history, and are designed for all ages. Group tours need to be reserved in advance. Self-guided tours are available 9:00am to 3:00pm every day, with brochures and other information available. Visitors can tour the Peoples House at their own pace, or take advantage of official presentations and tours. The Governor's Office allows guests to tour the Hall of Governors, as well as the Governor's Reception Room when it's not in use. A museum and gift shop are located next to the State Capitol in the Montana Historical Society.
Some of the agencies in the Montana State Capitol offer presentations and tours for visitors with advance notice. The Montana Secretary of State's Office offers presentations lasting fifteen to forty-five minutes on elections, voting, and the Secretary of State's role as registrar of businesses operating in the state and as keeper of official state records and the State Seal. Tours offered by the Montana Legislative Branch last fifteen to thirty minutes. These tours focus civic education and the legislative process, and are available to legislative delegations, non-profits, and school groups.
When Montana became a state by 1889, a bitter struggle ensued over which city would become the capital. The territorial capital, Helena, had to fend off Anaconda, a city full of rich copper barons. The first design for the State Capitol building was created by George R. Mann, but after controversy surrounding the construction of the building, a design by John Hackett Kent and Charles Emlen Bell was selected.
1301 East 6th Avenue, Helena, Montana, Phone: 406-444-2511
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