It's green! Green like me!


Sometimes a “Polly Adventure” happens when you least expect it, like when we were visiting Candee’s sister Missy a few days ago.

We had planned to get together and go out for dinner at a Spanish Tapas restaurant in downtown Harrisburg, but when we got there, there wasn’t any parking available in front of the restaurant. We searched for a spot and finally found one down the street in front of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building.

As we got out of the car, we noticed that the Capitol was still open for visitors, even though is was a few minutes past 5:00 p.m. Hmmm? Another adventure?


An Interesting View of the Capitol Rotunda




We found out from the guard on duty that the building didn’t close until 6:00 p.m., so we had plenty of time to explore. As we walked into the foyer, my eyes were immediately drawn to the Rotunda above us. At its highest point, the dome rises 272 above the ground and weighs an astonishing 52 million pounds! Illuminated by almost 4,000 lights, the dome is a magnificent sight to behold.


Candee, Missy, and Polly on the Grand Staircase (Why is Missy trying to grab that man's foot?)









Equally as impressive is the grand staircase which leads to the Legislative Chambers, with the Senate on the left, and the House to the right.




Can you believe that I couldn't find a frog!







The tiled flooring is an interesting addition to the front foyer and adjoining hallways because at first glance it doesn’t seem to fit in with the surrounding decor. However, after studying each design, I became drawn to them, as each is different from the next.

The tiles are hand-crafted Moravian tiles designed by Henry Chapman Mercer, an attorney by profession who spent his free time as an archaeologist, historian, and a potter.


Hitching a ride on a covered wagon






Mercer created 16,000 square feet of quarry tile for this project, which he once described as, “history written on the floor.” His designs included images from the 19th Century Industrial Revolution, as well as the agricultural heritage and wildlife typical of Pennsylvania.


I wonder if they'll dedicate a tile to me! Teddy Roosevelt stood here--wow!










President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated the Pennsylvania State Capitol on October 4, 1906, and declared it, “the most beautiful state Capitol in the nation.”


This is my new buddy, Ryan!









We wandered down the long hallway looking at each of the mosaic scenes, and we met Ryan, a guard on the House of Representatives side of the building. We struck up a friendly conversation with him and in turn, he explained many interesting facts about the Capitol and the surrounding area.

I must admit that we teased and asked him if we could go into the House Chambers to look around. Just as he told us that he couldn’t allow us to do that, a gentleman stopped and asked us what we wanted to see. Not thinking he would take us seriously, we told him, and he said that he would show us! Wow– boy were we surprised! With big smiles on our faces, we thanked Ryan for his hospitality and followed Tony to the elevator.


Tony let me hop up onto the desk with him.









Tony works as the Chief Clerk in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and he very graciously showed us around the Hall of the House.


Missy, Candee, Polly, and Hal posing in the Hall of the House








Hal told us many interesting stories, tidbits, and facts about the furnishings and pictures in the room. If you look carefully on the back wall in the picture to the right, you can see the painting entitled, “The Camp of the America Army at Valley Forge, February, 1778” which was created by Edwin Austin Abbey.

Abbey was commissioned to complete two paintings on either side of the Valley Forge painting, but died before they were even started. The wall space was left blank as a way to honor him and his work.


Passage of the Hours by Edwin Austin Abbey





This ceiling painting entitled, Passage of the Hours, was also painted by Abbey. This circular painting depicts the passage of time and features twenty-four women each representing one hour–twelve in the sunlight and twelve shrouded by darkness.


Don't we look little up there?









This massive painting measuring 35-feet wide, is entitled, The Apotheosis of Pennsylvania. Also painted by Edwin Austin Abbey, it features twenty eight distinguished members of Pennsylvania’s rich history, including William Penn, the founder and first governor of Pennsylvania, who is shown standing in the middle wearing a dapper red cloak.


This room is larger than two basketball courts!










This picture was taken from the back of the room, so you can easily tell how massive the room is by how little Missy, Hal, and Tony look in comparison.


And towers four stories high!










If you look carefully, in the upper right-hand side of the picture, you can spot two of the fourteen circular stained glass windows that grace the House Chamber. They were created by William Brantley Van Ingen, an artist from Philadelphia.


It was over 100, that fountain looks refreshing!










After our tour, we headed outside to see the fountain.

The large dome in the middle is the Capitol Rotunda, and the smaller dome to the right tops the House Chambers
















Sitting atop of the roof made out of green glazed terra cotta tiles, “Commonwealth”, a 17 and a half foot, 3-ton golden bronze statue, adds the crowning touch to this already magnificent building. The female statue nicknamed, “Miss Penn” represents Mercy and Justice, which are the founding principles for the state of Pennsylvania.






Information Source: The Capitol: The Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Jeanne H. Schmedlen, Harrisburg, Armstrong Printery, Inc.


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2 Responses to “Surprise Tour of the Pennsylvania State Capitol (Polly #2 & #3)”

  1. The pictures turned out great. That was really a great visit. I hope we get to visit the Senate side the next time we visit. 🙂 Fun Fun Fun.


  2. Tony, Ryan and Hal were very gracious and I appreciate the time they spent with us during our visit. It has been many years since I’ve toured the Capitol building and I really enjoyed the experience we had.

    Thanks Tony, Ryan and Hal!