“Alexander Ramsey, the 83-year-old first territorial governor of Minnesota, lays the cornerstone of the new state capitol. The building is completed after eight years of construction and a cost of $4.5 million. It is occupied in 1905. The building has been designed by local-architect-made-good Cass Gilbert, who also laid out the U of M campus and will draw up tall buildings in New York city.” *
Capitol buildings are symbols. They are designed for utility, but also to exude the authority and permanence of the state, the government, and the people they represent. Gilbert saw us as inheritor’s of Greek and Roman forms of representational government, and designed a capitol that reflected those influences.
It is easy to imagine that the farmers and loggers looked up and wondered, “What does all that marble have to do with lumber? The rotunda looks like a grain silo, but nothing is in it!?!” ‘Permanence’ to Gilbert may have looked like ‘opulence’ to citizens of the North Star state. Most were still recovering from the Panic of 1893.
“The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893. Similar to the Panic of 1873, it was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing, resulting in a series of bank failures. Compounding market overbuilding and the railroad bubble was a run on the gold supply. The Panic of ’93 was the worst economic depression the United States had ever experienced at the time.” **
In any regard, Lord, will You honor the heart of the architect Gilbert? Will You bless those Minnesotans’ who follow in his passion for designing our buildings and structures? Will You bless the workmen, both here and around the world, who provided their excellent labor and skill to create such a building?
Lord, will You forgive any judgments of the cost of the building during a time of economic struggle? Will You forgive the politicians’ their excesses and pride in their workplace? Like the silo analogy, will You fill the rotunda with Your substance and vision, and not just a grandiose view?
*** Delve into the life of Cass Gilbert. http://www.cassgilbertsociety.org