We are still excited every time we get to a new state or new capitol. One of the more recent state capitols we got to see in July of 2020 was the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. A lot of people have put down the capitol, like the one in Bismarck, ND, but I found it very beautiful. I guess they look at it like any other office building, but as I said, I still liked it. It is unique, and that’s what makes it special. Another reason is that it doesn’t have a dome like a few other states.
It is six stories high with an Indiana limestone façade on the first two floors. I really loved the four pillars or columns which are made of Tokeen marble from Price of Wales Island, south of Juneau near Ketchikan. I love marble and these were quite unique and interesting. The capitol building has served as the Alaska State Capitol for more than 85 years and was completed on February 2, 1931, and formally dedicated on February 14, 1931. The cost of the land and building was approximately $1 Million.
I always love the chambers so I will start out by sharing a little about the Senate and House of Representatives Chambers, both located on the second floor. An interesting thing to note is that the handles on the doors leading into the chambers of the Senate are hand-cast brass in a totemic design representing an eagle, a whale, and a bear. The ceiling in the House of Representatives is hand stenciled and dates back to the original construction of the building in 1930. FYI, the Senate has 20 Senators who serve four-year terms. They have 90-day legislative sessions which are held annually from January and end in April. The House has 40 Representatives who serve two-year terms. Between the 40 Senate and 20 Representatives, they serve a state population of over 731,000 people.
Another interesting thing to see at the capitol is the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. These offices are located on the third floor and are currently led by Governor Mike Dunleavy. A note of interest about these rooms is the doors again. Alaska natives from Haines carved two of the doors from black birch. The carvings depict Alaska’s major industries: tourism, fishing, mining, hunting, trapping, oil, and gas. Apparently, there is also a map of Alaska which was cut from a piece of the 48-inch pipe used to construct the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Pretty cool. There is also a Hall of Governors which has photos of both Territorial and State Governors and Lieutenant Governors through the years. Both serve four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms.
Another feature that I like to see, besides the State Seals, is the Liberty Bell. Outside the Alaska State Capitol building is a replica of the Liberty Bell, of the type given to all states and territories by the federal government in 1950 to help raise support for savings bond drives. Not sure what happened to the original, but apparently it is a replica.
In 2020 we had a bunch of our trips canceled (thanks to the Chinese Communist government, NOT) so we decided to use some of our miles and head to Alaska once their governor opened up the state with testing. We were excited because we had always wanted to go to Alaska and see their state capitol. As it turned out they were closed (thanks again Wuhan, NOT) but decided to go anyway. I figured we could at least walk around the building and take some pictures. I was lucky enough to reach out to someone at the state office who was very friendly and very helpful. She even sent me some pictures from inside that capitol to use on my post. It wasn’t the visit we had wanted, but we were there and still got a lot of information. Even with it being closed, we still had a good time walking around and taking some pictures, but it wasn’t the same.
I really hope to be able to visit again one day and really tour the capitol. I will definitely update this post once I see it is open with more information. In the meantime, here is a link to their website, plus some fun facts about the state of Alaska:
Bird: Willow Ptarmigan
Fish: Chinook Salmon
Flower: Alpine Forget-Me-Not
Fossil: Woolly Mammoth
Insect: Four-Spot Skimmer Dragonfly
Land Mammal: Moose
Marine Mammal: Bowhead Whale
Motto: North to the Future
Nickname: The Last Frontier
Song: Alaska’s Flag
Sport: Dog Mushing
Tree: Sitka Spruce
Interesting facts about Alaska’s Flag: In 1926 Alaska students grade 7-12 participated in a contest for the territorial flag design. Benny Benson, a 13-year-old, had the winning submission. It consisted of eight gold stars on a blue background. It’s stated that the stars represent the Big Dipper, or Great Bear, and symbolize strength. In 1927 the flag was officially adopted as the flag of the Territory of Alaska. When Alaska became a state in 1959 the drafters of the Alaska Constitution stipulated that the territorial flag would become the official state flag. Below you can see an image of the Alaska state flag, along with the US flag.
Alaska State Capitol Visitor Information
120 4th St, Juneau, AK 99801
Hours: – Normal
Monday – Friday 7 am – 5 pm
Sat and Sun – Closed
Again, there are no tours at the moment, but here is a link to check out their virtual tour.
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