Notable Tile Installation

Nebraska State Capitol

Notable Tile Installation

Name:
Nebraska State Capitol

Location:
Lincoln, Nebraska

Year of Installation:
1932

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Craftmanship Features

The Nebraska State Capitol’s beauty begins on the exterior with the building’s gleaming gold tile tower dome that can be seen from miles around.

Along with the building’s notable masonry work, there are many design elements that make this building magnificent from the inside out.

Mosaic murals are found throughout the inside of the building on the walls and the floors. Certain rooms in the Capitol have themes and the design for each room represents the chosen theme. For example, the theme of the vestibule is “Gifts of Nature to Man on the Plains.” The sun is represented in the center of the tile dome and by the chandelier and the large floor mosaic. The mosaic tile in the dome frames the sun with decorative scenes featuring the four seasons and is surrounded by a larger circle depicting agricultural products of Nebraska. The pendentives in the corners of the dome depict the four seasons of agriculture, and the arches around the dome are filled with animals native to Nebraska (see photo).

Additionally, certain rooms in the Capitol have a unique decorative theme, which predominantly includes mosaics, sculptures, and paintings. Notably, the theme of the foyer is “Life of Man.” In this room, there are six large mosaics on the walls to celebrate Nebraska’s Centennial in 1967. The mosaics on the floor represent the Earth, and three glass-tile mosaic medallions on the ceiling represent “Traditions of the Past,” “Life of the Present,” and “Ideas of the Future.” The Foyer also contains mosaics on the window arches that represent the activities of society and ceiling panels representing law, labor, public spirit, and religion. The rotunda is the intersection at the center of the Capitol, and its theme is “Virtues of the State.” The mosaic dome in the Rotunda illustrates eight winged figures that come together to represent the civic and sacred virtues. These virtues are temperance, courage, justice, wisdom, magnanimity, faith, hope, and charity.

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History

The current Nebraska State Capitol is the third capital on the same site, in the heart of downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. The innovative design of the building is the product of a nationwide design competition won by New York architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue in 1920.

The competition for the Capitol called for entries to involve collaboration with other professionals to produce a truly spectacular building. For his plan, Goodhue selected a team that complimented his architectural style and belief that decoration was fundamental to monumental architecture. He engaged Hartley Burr Alexander, a philosopher who advised on the Capitol’s themes, inscriptions, and symbolism; Hildreth Meiere, a tile and mosaic designer; and Lee Lawrie, a sculptor known for architectural sculpture.

Goodhue’s 85 thousand square-foot-plan called for construction to take place in four phases, allowing for construction to begin while the old Capitol was still occupied. This schedule met the competition’s key requirement that the Capitol be built in a ”fiscally responsible manner.” The Capitol construction spanned from 1922 to 1932 and was fully paid for (including furnishings and landscaping) upon completion, at a total of just under $10 million.

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See for Yourself

The Nebraska State Capitol is located at 1445 K St, Lincoln, NE 68508. To see the splendor inside, take a guided tour of the Capitol. The Capitol is also open for school tours and special events. If you are interested in hosting an event, visit https://capitol.nebraska.gov/building/host-an-event/.

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Extra Resources

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