Kentucky State Capitol
|Location||700 Capital Avenue, Frankfort, Kentucky|
|Architect||Frank Mills Andrews|
|NRHP reference No.||73000804 |
|Added to NRHP||April 13, 1973|
The Kentucky State Capitol is located in Frankfort and is the house of the three branches (executive, legislative, judicial) of the state government of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
See also: Old State Capitol (Kentucky)
From 1792 to 1830, two buildings were used as the capitol, both of which burned completely.
In 1830, another capitol was built and was used until 1910. During a bitterly contested 1899 state governor election, Democratic Party claimant William Goebel was assassinated at the capitol on his way to be inaugurated. The need for a larger building for a growing state government resulted in the replacement of that capitol building, which is now a museum operated by the Kentucky Historical Society.
In 1904, the Kentucky General Assembly chose Frankfort (rather than Lexington or Louisville) as the location for the state capital and appropriated $1 million for the construction of a permanent state capitol building, to be located in southern Frankfort. The official ground-breaking was August 14, 1905 and construction was completed in 1909 at a cost of $1,180,434.80. The building was dedicated on June 2, 1910.
The capitol was designed by Frank Mills Andrews, a distinguished and award-winning architect. He used the Beaux-Arts style and included many classical French interior designs. The staircases, for example, are replicas of those of the Opéra Garnier in Paris.
Between 1912 and 1963, five statues of historical figures from Kentucky were erected in the rotunda of the capitol. The first was a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln, which was donated in 1912. Statues of Henry Clay and Dr. Ephraim McDowell were added in 1930. Both of these are the bronzed plaster models used for the bronze statues that represent Kentucky in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. In 1936, a marble statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, was placed in the rotunda. The statue of Davis was paid for by both donations and public funds, and erected under the auspices of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The Kentucky General Assembly voted to fund a bronze statue of Alben Barkley, former Vice President of the United States, and it was added to the rotunda in 1963.
In 2018, a plaque in front of the statue of Jefferson Davis, which referred to Davis as a "patriot" and a "hero", was removed by the Kentucky Historic Properties Commission. On June 4, 2020, Governor Andy Beshear stated that he believed the statue of Davis should be removed. On June 13, 2020, the Kentucky Historic Properties Commission voted 11-1 to remove the statue from the Capitol. The Davis statue was to be moved to the Jefferson Davis Monument State Historic Site situated in Fairview, Kentucky, the birthplace of Davis.
The main part of the Capitol has three floors. The first floor contains the offices of the governor (and his or her staff), lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. It also features a rotunda with statues of famous Kentuckians and other exhibits, including Kentucky Women Remembered.
The rotunda contains four statues of notable historical figures from Kentucky. In the center of the rotunda stands a bronze statue of President Abraham Lincoln. Three more statures line the walls of the rotunda: bronze statues of Henry Clay, Vice President Alben Barkley, and Dr. Ephraim McDowell.
The second floor contains the courtroom of the state Supreme Court, as well as the chambers of the justices. The state law library is nearby. The State Reception Room is also located on the second floor.
The chambers of the House of Representatives and Senate face each other on opposite ends of the third floor. Some high-level legislative offices (such as for the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate) are also located there.
The Capitol also has a partial fourth floor which houses the galleries of the House and Senate, as well as a few offices for legislative committee staffers.
In addition, there is a partially buried basement level with mostly offices for clerks and maintenance personnel. However, it also contains a small gift shop and lunch counter as well as a tunnel to the neighboring Capitol Annex building. The Annex houses General Assembly committee rooms, General Assembly members offices and a cafeteria.
The Capitol used to be completely open during normal business hours, and local residents often used the marble hallways for exercise (the Frankfort equivalent of "mall walking"). Currently, anyone without proper state credentials must go through a metal detector. Security for the complex is provided by officers from the Facilities Security Branch of the Kentucky State Police along with specifically assigned state troopers.