Then and Now: March 2011

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Rhode Island Capitol Dome

This Month's Statehouse Photo

The detail photo in the March 2011 issue of State Legislatures shows the dome of the Rhode Island State House in Providence, R.I.

The Rhode Island State House is the seventh building to serve as the state's Capitol and the second in Providence. It was built between 1895 and 1904, and underwent a major renovation in the 1990s. The building, which features extensive use of Georgia white marble, is the fourth-largest self-supporting marble dome in the world, after St. Peter's Basilica, the Minnesota State Capitol and the Taj Mahal.

On top of the dome is a bronze statue of Independent Man that is 11 feet tall and and alludes to the independent spirit that led Roger Williams to establish Providence and later Rhode Island. It's one of the first public buildings to use electricity and to install skylights. It served as a stand in for the U.S. Capitol in the film "Amistad."

25 Years Ago

Articles from the March 1986 issue of State Legislatures:

  • HOW TO PURCHASE A COMPUTER: “Computer systems are without a doubt a big-budget item. Rarely does a state legislature spend as much or make a purchase that has such long-term implications.”
  • LAWMAKERS HALT HOSTILE TAKEOVERS:  “New York Governor Mario Cuomo signed a bill designed to curtail takeovers saying that lack of federal action to regulate corporate mergers prompted New York to pass the legislation.”
  • VERMONT RAISES DRINKING AGE TO 21: “The last state in New England enacted legislation to raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21.”

Did You Know?

Iowa flag

A winding dirt road to the top floor served as a ramp during construction of Iowa’s Capitol, which was finished in 1886. Mule wagons used it to carry the heavy 29 varieties of hand-crafted marble used in the interior. The contractor, Robert Finkbine, devised the rather genius idea.

—From A Celebration of State Capitols, by Richard R. Gibson