Gene and I set a lofty goal to travel and visit all 50 state capitols. We had been to quite a few of them separately, but have seen many together. I am going to share those visits here on my blog every now and then, so today I am going to share our 26th capitol and our official start to the second half of our objective. The capitol I am referring to is the Oregon State Capitol which is located in Salem.
We went to Salem while we were in the Portland area for a three day weekend getaway over Valentines day in 2014. We left Portland and stayed the night in Salem to be there first thing in the morning to do a tour of the Oregon State Capitol. This capitol also has another significant value for us, as it was the first and only capitol building we’ve been at during their opening service. It was truly inspiring. They had a singer, we all stood with our hands over our hearts and said the Pledge of Allegiance, and they introduced several guests. I was feeling very patriotic, lol. Seriously though, It was a great way to start the second half of our quest.
While we were there we found out that the building was constructed from 1936 to 1938, and expanded in 1977, is the third to house the Oregon state government in Salem. Two former capitol buildings were destroyed by fire, one in 1855 and the other in 1935. The current capitol building is the fourth-newest capitol in the United States. The capitol was dedicated on October 1, 1938, with speeches from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Leslie M. Scott, Robert W. Sawyer, and Oregon Governor Charles Henry Martin Besides the capitol being incredible, the grounds are also amazing and cover three city blocks. Near the west entrance of the capitol is a replica of Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell.
This bell is one of 53 full-sized replicas made in France and donated by the United States government to each state. On the east side of the building is Capitol Park, which includes a bronze equestrian statue by A. Phimister Proctor called The Circuit Rider, statues of John McLoughlin and Jason Lee by Gifford Proctor, and portions of the Corinthian columns of the second capitol building, Other features on the capitol grounds include Sprague Fountain and the Wall of Water. The Wall of Water is located across Court Street from the main entrance. It was added in 1990 and has 22 nozzles shooting water 12 feet (3.7 m) into the air in a plaza that also has slabs of stone with information about Oregon’s history.
Once inside you will find the Capitol History Gateway exhibit which highlights some of the diverse cultural traditions that have influenced the state. You can also learn about other museums and resources in Oregon that expand the understanding of these cultures. You also can’t help but notice the 9-foot rotunda. There are 33 gold leaves which represent Oregon as the 33rd state admitted to the union. Of course, I also loved the state seal. Always a highlight of any state capitol tour. 🙂
I also love seeing the Senate Chambers and the House of Representatives Chambers which are on the second floor. It was inspiring to be there for their opening service that day! FYI, there are 30 desks for senate members, and the House has 60 desks for members. Also on the second floor is the Governor’s Ceremonial Office which is used for public signing of legislation and press conferences.
The Oregon State Capitol is really beautiful and definitely worth seeing. We were sad to leave but had to head back to Portland and catch a plane later that afternoon. It was truly the highlight of our trip and I am thrilled we made the time to drive down and experience it firsthand. For those of you who don’t know, She Flies With Her Own Wings, is the Oregon state motto. It is stated to reflect Oregon’s independent spirit. Here is a link to their website with more information about the older capitol buildings. .
Oregon State Capitol Visitor Information
900 Court St Salem, OR 97301
Monday – Friday 8 am-5 pm
Saturdays – Only for specific events
Take a guided tour on weekdays at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Capitol tours start at the state seal in the rotunda.
Tower tours are available from mid-June through late September at 10 a.m, 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. on weekdays, weather permitting and capacity controlled. Your guided tour departs from the rotunda on the first floor and climbs 121 steps to the observation deck atop the Capitol.
Self Guided Tour
Explore the State Capitol on your own from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday year-round. Pick up a brochure of building highlights, as well as information about exhibits and artwork, at the information kiosk on the first floor.
Go South on I-5 to the #256 Exit (Market Street) Go right on Market Street Turn left on Summer Street Turn left on Center Street Right on Capitol Street Turn right on Court Street. Make sure to park in appropriate areas for visitors.
Go North on I-5 to the #253 Exit (Mission Street/Hwy. 22) Turn left on Mission Street/Hwy22. Follow signs to State Offices & Willamette University. Again, park in appropriate areas for visitors.
Go West on Hwy 22 to Salem. Follow signs to State Offices & Willamette University. Turn left on Court Street. Make sure to park in appropriate areas for visitors.
Go East on Hwy 22 to Salem. This road becomes Center Street. Stay on Center Street. Turn right on Capitol. Turn right on Court Street.
Meters that accept credit and debit cards, as well as coins, are available for parking close to the Capitol. Check the City of Salem parking guide for more information on 3-hour free parking and flexible meter schedules. Parking in the Capitol Mall is free on Saturdays and Sundays.
Powered doors and a ramp are located on the south side of the building with access gained from the State Street side of the Capitol. Elevators access all floors in the Capitol and can accommodate most wheelchairs.
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