On Saturday we enjoyed a private tour of the Georgia State Capitol by Madeline (Gray) Lara ’19, now an Executive Legislative Assistant for State Senators William Ligon (R-3) and Renee Unterman (R-45). Quite apart from the excellent company, it is one of the more interesting state capitols in the Union.
Ms. Lara at her desk – with Reinhardt diploma on the wall.
Her handiwork keeping the senators on track. In case you were wondering, the “Ice Cream” bill (SB 198), if passed, will “authorize the manufacture, distribution, transportation, or sale of ice cream or frozen desserts made with alcoholic beverages without an alcoholic beverage license or permit.” Sounds like a great idea!
The Senate and House Chambers, which we could only see from the balcony, unfortunately.
I do love a good custom doorknob! Such things are well due for a revival.
The interior of the dome, however, leaves something to be desired. Think of all the ways they could decorate this.
To my delight the halls contain all manner of portraits and statuary of past governors, including:
Joesph E. Brown, native of Canton and Georgia’s governor during the Civil War.
Jimmy Carter who, prior to being elected president in 1976, served as Georgia’s governor from 1971 to 1975, thus this decidedly youthful portrait.
Joe Frank Harris, governor 1983-1991. Harris is a native of Cartersville and the namesake of the main drag.
Zell Miller, governor 1991-1999 (a Democrat, but a speaker at the 2004 Republican National Convention, on the principle that “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me”). Gov. Miller was Reinhardt’s commencement speaker back in 2007.
Roy Barnes, governor 1999-2003, the last Democrat to hold the office. One of the reasons why may be seen in the background: it is a rendition of Barnes’s state flag, which he instituted to replace Georgia’s 1956 flag, which featured a large Southern Cross. At the time this shift did not go over very well with white Georgians outside of Atlanta. The fact that it was a train wreck of a design didn’t help much.
George Erwin “Sonny” Perdue, governor 2003-2011, and currently the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Perdue insisted on his wife Mary’s inclusion in his official portrait. I recall a campaign advertisement from 2006 in which putting “Innanet predators behind bars” was on his “Sonny-do list.”
Nathan Deal, governor 2011-2019, with wife Sandra. Ms. Lara pointed out that the portrait includes a lot of meaningful detail: the crane for Deal’s sponsorship of urban development, the statue of Justice for his program of criminal justice reform, the apple and leaf (lying atop a copy of Pete the Cat by Atlanta author Eric Litwin) for education, and the movie camera bookend for the film industry.
Lester Maddox, governor from 1967 to 1971. Maddox also inserted a lot of meaningful detail. The peaches are for Georgia, of course. His rumpled seersucker suit indicates his unconventionality. Apparently he was not permitted to have his wife Hattie included in the portrait, so he did the next best thing and included a picture of her.
The state seal on the upper left includes a bicycle for Maddox’s love of cycling.
His adversarial relationship with the press is indicated by a copy of the Atlanta Constitution acting as fish wrap, which is all he said it was good for.
(No pickaxe handles, though.)
Maddox famously denied Martin Luther King a lying-in-state at the Georgia Capitol following MLK’s assassination in 1968, so a portrait of the great man now hangs permanently.
Around the rotunda are busts of men considered Georgia’s founders, including:
Button Gwinnett, signatory to the Declaration of Independence and namesake of Gwinnett County.
Abraham Baldwin, founder of the University of Georgia and namesake of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC).
On one of the main staircases is a bust of James Oglethorpe, founder of the Colony of Georgia, looking concerned.
The third floor of the Capitol functions as the Georgia State Museum, which provides lots of interesting things to see (although It’s probably past due for this collection to find a permanent home in its own building, parallel to the Bullock Texas State History Museum or the Louisiana State Museum.)
A Mississippian chief.
From the days before Dominion Voting Systems.
The ERA era.
A diorama of the wildlife in the Upper Coastal Plain region.
A local product (mostly from Tate): marble, used for the construction of the Lincoln Memorial and the Minnesota State Capitol.
I was also very edified to see some historic flags on display!
Flag of the 82nd Division 325th Infantry Regiment (era of World War I).
Flag of the First Georgia Infantry, U.S. Volunteers (era of the Spanish-American War).
Flag of the Richmond Hussars (organized 1819).
The Georgia State Capitol follows the regular pattern of such buildings in the United States, and features a dome.
Georgia’s is covered in gold leaf, a signature product of Dahlonega.
The dome is also topped by a statue of “Miss Freedom,” restored and reinstalled in 2004.
Ms. Lara’s office is next to a vault, which now serves as a copy room. Some people claim that the room stored Confederate gold during the Civil War, but as you can read the building only went up in the 1880s (and Atlanta only became the state capital in 1868).
When we arrived at noon we had to dodge the pro-Trump Stop the Steal march, and all the state troopers making sure nothing got out of hand. But by the time we left the only demonstrators appeared to be a group of Black Hebrew Israelites.
Merry Christmas, everybody!