Home / A&E / Books / The Wisconsin Capitol: Stories of a Monument and Its People (Wisconsin Historical Society Press), by Michael Edmonds

The Wisconsin Capitol: Stories of a Monument and Its People (Wisconsin Historical Society Press), by Michael Edmonds

Jul. 11, 2017
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A century ago the State Capitol that looms over Madison was completed, replacing an earlier structure that had burned down. Like its predecessor, and most state capitols, the structure looks like the little brother to the Capitol in Washington. As Wisconsin historian Michael Edmonds astutely observes in his picture-book history, the architects “wanted nothing to do with modernism” and resolutely designed an edifice that was “nostalgic, reassuring, and safe.” Although the Capitol was a Victorian tribute to ancient Greece and the Renaissance, erected at a time of rapid cultural change, one can’t deny its beauty, displayed in color photographs of the statues and murals adorning the structure. The architect, George Post, intended Wisconsin’s Capitol “to be a positive force that would inspire and uplift its occupants.” Beauty failed to stir the better angels in recent years, yet the building was once the setting for much progressive legislation. Edmonds concludes with the hopeful thought that our Capitol will “continue to accommodate a civilized sifting and winnowing of solutions to problems from both sides of every divide.”

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