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Oklahoma Historical Society * Veteran's Memorial * Indian Plaza * State Capitol Tours * National Guard * State Library for the Blind
The Oklahoma State Capitol is the only capitol in the world surrounded by working oil wells -- and one of only a dozen without a dome. The well directly south of the building's south entrance is nicknamed "Petunia #1" because the drilling began in the middle of a flower bed in 1941. The well was completed in 1942 and produced up to 600 barrels of oil a day before running dry in 1986.
The site was chosen in 1913 and was then 2 1/2 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. Ground breaking was held July 20, 1914 and the building was dedicated June 30, 1917. The Capitol cost $1.5 million to build. Construction of the dome that was part of the architect's rendering was postponed (indefinitely, it turned out) because of steel shortages during World War I.
The building's architecture is classic Greco-Roman, designed by English architects Wemyss Smith and Solomon A. Layton. The Capitol has 650 rooms and 11 acres of floor space. The exterior is Indiana limestone and the base is Oklahoma pink and black granite. Floors are Alabama marble and the stairs and wall bases are Vermont marble. Width from north to south is more than 300 feet and from east to west is more than 422 feet. The rotunda spans 105 feet from the inlaid State Seal on the first floor to a leaded and stained glass seal on the domed ceiling. All ceilings throughout the Capitol display hand carved and hand painted detail.
Murals and Portraits
Above the south doorway at the bottom of a grand marble second story staircase is a mural of a World War I soldier preparing to meet his troops, donated to the state by Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips Petroleum. The mural was painted in Paris, France by Gilbert White in 1921. In a separate mural above it are two Latin words: Pro Patria, meaning Fatherland.
Four large portraits of famous Oklahomans are hung in the rotunda: Robert S. Kerr, co-founder of the Kerr-McGee Oil Company, the 12th governor of Oklahoma and former U.S. senator; Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee syllabary; Will Rogers, goodwill ambassador to the world in his day; and 1912 Olympic champion Jim Thorpe, who was a member of the Sac and Fox tribe.
Murals above each portrait depict the early stages of Oklahoma's development, and plaques mounted on the inside rotunda railing detail facts about each. The murals are titled "Discovery and Exploration, 1541-1820," "Frontier Trade, 1790-1830," "Indian Immigration Time From 1820-1885," and "Non-Indian Settlement, 1870-1906."
On the north wall of the fifth floor is "Flight of Spirit," a mural by Chickasaw Indian Artist Mike Larsen. The painting commemorates five world famous Oklahoma Indian Ballerinas; Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin and Maria and Marjorie Tallchief.
"Oklahoma Black Gold" is the most recent mural addition. The 22-foot by 11 foot-mural by artist Jeff Dodd celebrates the 100th anniversary of the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma. The Nellie Johnstone No. 1, the state's first commercial oil well, is featured prominently in the mural. A reproduction of the oil well stands in Bartlesville in Johnstone Park, near where the original well was drilled in -- it was the first flowing commercial oil well in the world.
Links to Other Pictures of State Capitol
The Oklahoma Legislature is in session from the second week in January until early May.
Monday through Thursday visitors may observe House sessions from the fifth floor viewing gallery. The gallery entrance is inside the glass doors to the left of railing. The House has 101 members, each elected for two-year terms. Along the walls of the House chambers are portraits of the current and past speakers of the house, the president of the United States and the governor of Oklahoma. Above the present speaker's photograph is a large electronic voting screen.
The Senate gallery is open Monday through Friday during business hours. Each of the 48 state senators are elected to a four-year term. The Senate's electronic voting screen is on the east wall, between portraits of the current lieutenant governor and the Senate president pro tempore.
The State Capitol is open every day except Christmas at NE 23rd and Lincoln Boulevard in Oklahoma City. Guided tours of the Capitol are given Monday through Friday on the hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call (405) 521-3356 for information and reservations.
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Copyright & Copy; 1996 Shop Oklahoma All
Copyright & Copy; 1996 Shop Oklahoma All