On our continual quest to tour all the U.S. State Capitols, in June of 2015 we took a trip to Bismark, North Dakota to check out the North Dakota State Capitol Building. Sadly, I had heard a few derogatory comments about this capitol, about it not being a real capitol, but I feel they were WAY wrong. This is a gorgeous capitol and very unique. There are only 3 other capitols that I know of that have the same style: Florida, Nebraska, and Louisiana.
The current North Dakota State Capitol Building has 19 floors and is 241 feet 8 inches in height. It was completed in 1934 at slightly under its $2 million dollar limit. With merely 80 percent usable space, it cost merely 46 cents per cubic foot. Amazing! It is the tallest building in North Dakota and is known as the Skyscraper on the Prairie.
The one thing that I didn’t really like about this capitol was that there were no self-guided tours (at least when we went) and had to make sure we were there at a certain time to catch a guided tour. However, this wasn’t really a bad thing as we learned a lot from our tour guide. She was very enthusiastic and seemed to really like the capitol and wanted us to enjoy it as much as she did. She was also very nice and let our group walk around the bottom floor after the tour to take pictures and such.
During our tour, we made several stops along the way including the House of Representatives and Senate chambers. What I really liked was the bronze columns in the galleries of both chambers. They are beautiful and quite unique. Another unique piece of the capitol building is what they call the Monkey Room. The wood in this room is a California Walnut and is very rare. This is known as a wild figure veneer.
If you look closely and use your imagination a bit, you can see a bunny jumping out of a lettuce patch. Many different types of faces can be seen in this wood. You need to see this room to appreciate the many designs in the wood. What was really interesting was that it was sent to the capitol in mistake, but they were never able to determine who the rightful owner was, so eventually, it became theirs. It is very beautiful.
Toward the end of the tour, we were taken up to the 18th floor which they call the Observation Tower. The views from up there are incredible. They also have a lot of pictures of the old capitol building before it tragically burned down on December 28, 1930. There is definitely a lot to see as you walk around the building looking at the views from all four sides. It definitely reminded me of the one in Nebraska.
The whole North Dakota State capitol was great, but the thing that I really liked the most was their Great Seal of North Dakota. It is amazing. It is metal, six feet in diameter, and weighs over 400 pounds! There is also a descriptive plaque below the seal which weighs 500 pounds. It is really a beautiful piece of art. Of course we had to take a picture in front of it. 🙂
Not only is the North Dakota State Capitol Building a piece of art, but the grounds are also spectacular. There are two parks Myron Atkinson Park and Capitol Park, as well as the Arboretum and Prairie Trail. While walking around you will certainly come across several of the statues throughout the grounds. The two most prominent statues on the grounds are the Pioneer Family and All Veterans Memorial statues. Make a point of seeing them while at the capitol.
Here is a fun little piece of history. On February 17, 2007, North Dakota made it into the Guinness World Records when 8,962 snow angels were created by people on the state capitol grounds. Just thought that was a fun tidbit of history to share.
We had a great visit and really enjoyed our tour. I feel sorry for those that may have looked down at this incredible capitol building. It is beautiful! Here is a link to their website with more information, and such. Also, if you are looking for some restaurant suggestions, please check out my post on Bismark Food Experiences.
North Dakota State Capitol Visitor Information
600 E. Boulevard Ave
Bismark, ND 58505
Tours are available year around.
Monday through Friday: Hourly 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Summer Tour Hours: Memorial Day through Labor Day
Monday -Friday: Hourly 9:00 am to 11:00 am and 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Saturday: Hourly 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Sunday Hourly 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Holiday Hours on Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day: Hourly 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Apparently they have been making changes to the parking and entrances to the capitol. I am not sure which is the latest information. I would call the tour number 701-328-2480 and ask them the best place to park.
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