Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kansas State Capitol

The Kansas State Capitol, also known as the Statehouse, has been a fixture on the Topeka landscape for over 140 years. Construction began in 1866 and continued for 37 years until the structure was completed around the turn of the last century.

At one time or another the Capitol has provided meeting spaces and offices for all three branches of state government. It has also been a focal point for state and national events and activities. Speeches, demonstrations, celebrations, performances and memorial observances have been held inside and outside on the grounds. The artwork and architectural beauty of the building have attracted many and sometimes angered some. Motion pictures have used the Capitol as a setting and artists have spent hours sketching, photographing and painting views of its interior and exterior. In many ways the Capitol and its grounds have served as our state's "town square" where the day-to-day life of our state is viewed in the actions of government as well as other Kansas citizens.

Ten years ago the State Legislature voted to begin the process of renovating the Capitol refurbishing the building as well as updating it for use as a vital center of government in the 21st century.

Renovation of the Kansas State Capitol continues. Recently the street just to the west of the Statehouse grounds was partially closed in order to set up a 340 foot high crane which will soon loom over the building. Workers will use the crane for exterior masonry restoration. Work on the building should continue for several more years and should when completed provide an open, accessible setting that will prominently display the beauty of the past mixed with the technology of the present.

We've assembled here some links to resources on the State Capitol, past and present with a glimpse into the planned future.


Kansas State Capitol
(Information from the Kansas State Historical Society)
--What you'll see
--Find out about our history
--Take an Online Tour
--Take a Historic Tour
--Take a School Tour
--Stories from the Capitol
--Real People. Real Stories
--Just for kids
--Just for teachers
--Guides to the Capitol
--Construction update

Capitol Tours
(Tour schedules and contacts)

Guide to the Kansas State Capital
(A wonderful publication available online from the Kansas State Historical Society)

Kansas State Capitol Guide For Young People
(Great guide for school children from the Kansas State Historical Society)

Capitol Building
(Graphics showing original documents and pictures at Kansas Memory)

Kansas State Capitol
(Information and photos from Kansas Travel and Tourism. Note the photo of the glass floor in the State Library, a favorite "walk over" by tours. The Library's site in the Capitol is currently closed for renovation but should reopen in 2012. In the meantime the Library has been relocated to a portable unit on the southwest corner of the Capitol)

Topeka Photo Tour
(Includes some good photos of the Capitol)


John Steuart Curry
(An interesting look at the artist who painted several murals in the Capitol and felt the ire of some Kansans because of his work. From PBS website)

The Dome
(From Kansas Travel and Tourism. Tours of the Dome have been suspended during renovation but you can see some great photos here)

Ad Astra Statue
(Articles from the Topeka Capital Journal about the placing of a statue on top of the dome)

Abraham Lincoln (seated) Sculpture - "Man Of Sorrow"
--Picture (photo by Carol Yoho)

Kansas Law Enforcement Memorial
--Information from Kansas Peace Officers Association
--Information from Kansas State Historical Society

Statue of Liberty Replica
(An article from the Topeka Capital Journal about a Boy Scout's work in restoring the wall under the statue on the Capitol grounds)

Peter F. Felten, Jr. Statuary
(Hays artist, Peter "Fritz" Felten, Jr. sculpted four statues of famous statues which grace the inside of the Capitol)


Capitol Renovation
(Information at the Kansas State Historical Society's website)

Kansas State Capitol Renovation
(Information from the architectural firm working on the Capitol)

Renovation History
(Information at the Kansas State Historical Society's website)

JE Dunn Portfolio: Kansas State House
(Primary building company)

Article by: Bill Sowers
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


The Kansas Statutes, in designating the sunflower as our state flower, states:

"WHEREAS, Kansas has a native wild flower common throughout her borders, hardy and conspicuous, of definite, unvarying and striking shape, easily sketched, moulded, and carved, having armorial capacities, ideally adapted for artistic reproduction, with its strong, distinct disk and its golden circle of clear glowing rays -- a flower that a child can draw on a slate, a woman can work in silk, or a man can carve on stone or fashion in clay."

Sunflowers are grown in Kansas gardens, appear in Kansas architecture and show up on Kansas-related websites as iconic symbols of our state. Kansans sing, quilt, paint and wax poetic about Helianthus Annuus. And woe betide any state that considers declaring our much loved symbol a noxious weed!

So let's get out a couple lawn chairs, stroll out into a field of wild sunflowers (bug spray optional!), sit back and ponder this symbol of perpetual optimism as it faces its namesake's journey across the summer sky.


Kansas State Flower (Florapedia)

Sunflower: An American Native (Missouri Extension)


Kansas Wildflowers website
--Common Sunflower (Kansas state flower)
--Ashy Sunflower
--Hairy Sunflower
--Maximilian Sunflower
--Plains Sunflower
--Stiff Sunflower
--Sawtooth Sunflower
--Tickseed Sunflower
--Willow-Leaf Sunflower
--Other Kansas wild flowers in the sunflower family

Kansas Sunflowers and Prairie Skies


Selections from Poetry of Kansas
--The Maverick
--The Nodding Sunflowers
--An Ode to the Kansas Sunflower
--Serenade Of The Sunflowers
--Sunflower Fields
--The Sunflower Of Kansas
--When The Sunflowers Bloom
--Ah! Sunflower!


My First Garden
(University of Illinois at Urbana)

The Sunflower Story: Teacher's Guide
(Oklahoma State University)

Sunflowers: A Gift of Joy in the Garden
(University of California at Davis)

Gardening With Wildflowers
(Kansas Wildflower Society)


"Flowers Of The Sun" / by Lorraine J. Kaufman
(magazine article : Kansas wildlife & parks. Vol. 57, no. 5 (Sep./Oct. 2000), p 20-25)
ATLAS Catalog Record

Kansas Icons
Topeka, KS : KTWU/Channel 11 Television, c2005
[30 minute videorecording]
ATLAS Catalog Record

Kansas Katie: A Sunflower Tale / by Jerri Garretson
(children's book : Manhattan, Kan. : Ravenstone Press, 2000)
ATLAS Catalog Record

Kansas Sunflowers / by H.A. Stephens
(booklet : Emporia, Kansas : Emporia State University, Department of Biology, 1981)
ATLAS Catalog Record

Sunflower / by Miela Ford ; pictures by Sally Noll
(children's book : New York : Greenwillow Books, 1995)
ATLAS Catalog Record

(picture book : Philadelphia : Courage Books, 2004)
ATLAS Catalog Record

Sunflowers: The Secret History ; The Unauthorized Biography of the World's Most Beloved Weed / by Joe Pappalardo
(book ; New York : Overlook Press, 2007)
ATLAS Catalog Record

"'There's No Place Like Home' : Symbols And Images of Kansas" / by James H. Nottage and Floyd R. Thomas, Jr
(magazine article : Kansas History, vol. 8, no. 3 (Autumn, 1985), p. 138-161)
ATLAS Catalog Record

This Is The Sunflower / by Lola M. Schaefer ; pictures by Donald Crews
(children's book : New York : Greenwillow Books, 2000)
ATLAS Catalog Record

To Live In Symbols / by Neil Byer, et al.
(booklet : Emporia, Kan. : Kansas State Teachers College, Dept. of English, 1957)
ATLAS Catalog Record

Article by: Bill Sowers
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.