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The Wisconsin Capitol: Stories of a Monument and Its People

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On the occasion of the Capitol’s centennial in 2017, this book tells the remarkable story of the building—in all its incarnations—and the people who made history beneath its dome. The book covers the creation of the territorial capitol in 1837, the construction of the second capitol in the 1860s (and the fire that almost completely destroyed it in 1904), the eleven-year construction project that completed the third capitol in 1917, and the extensive conservation project of the 1990s that restored the building to its grandeur. Supporting the framework of this architectural history are colorful stories about the people who shaped Wisconsin from within the Capitol—attorneys, senators, and governors (from Henry Dodge to Scott Walker), as well as protesters, reformers, secretaries, tour guides, custodians, and even Old Abe, the Capitol’s resident eagle. Combining historical photographs with modern, full-color architectural photos, The Wisconsin Capitol provides fascinating details about the building, while also emphasizing the importance of the Capitol in Wisconsin’s storied history.

144 pages, Hardcover

Published July 7, 2017

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Michael Edmonds

17 books2 followers

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
638 reviews10 followers
July 31, 2018
State Capitols are workshops and monuments, sites where history is made and where the lore, beauty and treasures of their states are on display to all who may come to these living shrines of democracy. “The Wisconsin Capitol” is the story of one the most beautiful capitols in America.

This work is a combination of the history of the capitols, and Madison has had three, and the history of the state they have served. Much text is devoted to the history of the state itself, starting with the Indians who first inhabited the region of Madison, the first whites who settled the isthmus and began to build the town. The saga then turns to the legislators, governors, doormen and others who have served in the buildings. A few who merit mention are Governor Louis Harvey who drowned on a trip to take supplies to Wisconsin troops fighting in Tennessee in 1862, Old Abe, the War Eagle who resided in the Capitol after his Civil War campaigns, Benjamin Butts, the long-time African-American doorman or butler at official gatherings and Robert LaFollette, the Progressive leader of the early Twentieth Century. The Capitols saw the professionalization of government through a Library and Legislative Reference Bureau as the Wisconsin Idea brought the learning of the University of Wisconsin to the service of the state.

Alas, buildings are vulnerable and in 1904 the second Capitol at Madison succumbed to fire. In its place the state erected the magnificent structure that we see today. It has stood through the Progressive Era, World War I when reluctance to enter the war earned Wisconsin the moniker of “The Traitor State”, the Great Depression, another World War and the post-war era. The Capitol has been at the center of debate, protest, accomplishment and recognition of the Wisconsin’s heroes. After a nearly a century of wear and tear this monument to Wisconsin’s greatness was lovingly restored to new splendor and designated a National Historical Landmark in 2001.

Author Michael Edmonds has weaved the people, the buildings and the lore of Wisconsin into a delightful book. The narrative is enhanced by dozens of paintings and photographs, both black and white and color, historic and contemporary.

Lest I sound like too much of a home state booster, a disclaimer is in order. I have never lived in Wisconsin but have visited it often. I have been inside 19 state capitols and, in my judgement, Wisconsin’s has the most beautiful interior that I have seen. “the Wisconsin Capitol” does justice to this magnificent edifice. I urge you to take a tour if your travels include Madison. In any event, read this book, then sit it down. Keep it handy and, every now and them, pick it up, look at its pictures and revisit its characters who commanded your admiration during the first read. The put it down, again…until the next time.

I did receive a free copy of this book without an obligation to post a review.
Profile Image for Paul Lunger.
970 reviews4 followers
August 30, 2018
With "The Wisconsin Capitol: Stories of a Monument and Its People", Michael Edmonds does a very nice job going through not only the history of the state of Wisconsin, but also with the overall history of the buildings that have occupied the area where the current building is. With a decent amount of ease & plenty of pictures as well, we the reader get an understanding of how important this symbol is to the state of Wisconsin & it's people as well as an understanding of the history of this state that is presented by the stories that are a part of it. This is a book that this non-native thoroughly enjoyed & reminded me that next time I'm in Madison I may have to spend a little more time in this beautiful building which is something that all people of that state should be proud of.
Profile Image for Amber.
1,534 reviews4 followers
March 14, 2019
the photos are amazing in this book. I learn a few new things when reading this book.
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews

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