Sitting on top of the hill overlooking Salt Lake City is the remarkable Utah State Capitol building, home to the chambers and offices of the state government. When you visit the Utah State Capitol, you are greeted by history, fascinating artwork and stunning architecture. Designed by architect Richard K.A Kletting, it’s a neoclassical building featuring distinguished Corinthian style columns, built between 1912 and 1916. Here are some interesting facts about the Utah State Capitol.
1. Liberty Bell Replica
The original Liberty Bell is located in the Independence Hall in Pennsylvania, but all the State Capitol buildings have a replica of it. Originally, the bell was rung to call lawmakers to their meetings and it wasn’t until later that the bell became a symbol for liberty. The Liberty Bell was embraced as a symbol by many movements across the country such as the abolitionists and the women’s suffrage to civil rights.
The inscription in the bell reads “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.” from Leviticus 25:10 in the Old Testament, chosen by Isaac Norris in remembrance of William Penn’s Charter of Privileges, which granted religious liberties and other political rights to the people of Pennsylvania.
2. Georgia Marble
The Capitol’s interior walls and columns are made out of the famous Georgia marble. There are 24 solid marble columns 26 ft tall with each column weighing 5,000 pounds. The walls’ panels are made with distinct book cut panels, where four marble sheets have the same design and are reflections of each other.
3. Rotunda’s Artwork
The intricate designs of the rotunda illustrate the life, work and accomplishments of the early Utah settlers such as the liberty flag, dancing, seagulls protecting the pioneers’ crops from the crickets, railroad construction, the relationship with the Native Americans and the mining industry.
The four corners created by the columns that support the rotunda were painted by an unemployed artist during the Great Depression, as a way to provide work for him. The paintings also illustrate Utah’s early history.
The four statues, also located on those corners, are meant to have elements that symbolize hope, timelessness and wisdom as they represent the state government’s focuses.
4. Governor’s Public Office Furniture
It may be hard to believe, but in 1999 the Salt Lake valley was struck by a tornado. The tornado hit downtown Salt Lake and went through the southeast corner of Capitol hill, uprooting 93 fully mature trees in the area. Despite of the heartbreak caused by the destruction, fallen trees gain a new purposed by being turned into the Governor’s desk, located in his public office. The desk is made out of linden trees, maple trees and Japanese pagodas.
5. The House of Representatives Chamber
The Chamber for Utah’s 75 Representatives is also decorated with significant artwork. The two murals painted by Utah artist David Koch on the north and south walls depict important events in Utah’s history that shaped the future of the state.
The north mural illustrates Seraph Young, the first women to vote in the Utah territory in the municipal election of 1869.
The south mural shows the Engen Brothers building the Ecker Hill ski jump in the late 1920s. Today, Utah is famous worldwide for its ski industry and snow.
6. Use of Natural Light
The Capitol sets the example when it comes to reduce the use of electricity. The unique way the building was design features abundant use of skylights, allowing natural light to illuminate its prestigious hallways and rooms.
The Utah Capitol building is open to the public Monday – Friday from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm and on Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. You can go on a free guided tour Monday – Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and the tours last about 50 minutes. For more fun activities around Salt Lake, visit our Surrounding Activities page.