State Symbols of Missouri

State Capitol

Missouri's State Capitol

State government in Missouri focuses on the state's beautiful, domed Capitol, dominating the bluffs of the Missouri River in Jefferson City.

The dome, rising 238 feet above ground level and topped by a bronze statue of Ceres, goddess of vegetation, is the first view of Jefferson City for travelers arriving from the north. The structure is Jefferson City's leading tourist attraction and is a mecca for school groups who arrive by busloads, particularly during General Assembly sessions when they fill the galleries to watch the Senate and House of Representatives in action.

In addition to housing the two legislative bodies, the Capitol provides office space for the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, state auditor and some administrative agencies. The structure is also notable for its architectural features, including its eight 48-foot columns on the south portico and six 40-foot columns on the north side; its 30-foot-wide grant stairway and its bronze front doors, each 13 by 18 feet -- largest cast since the Roman era.

The Capitol's first floor features the State Museum. Outstanding paintings, pediments and friezes decorate the Capitol interior. A prime attraction is a series of Thomas Hart Benton murals in the House Lounge.

Statuary is a prominent feature of the Capitol grounds. Heroic bronze figures depicting Missouri's two great rivers, the Mississippi and Missouri, and a 13-foot statue of Thomas Jefferson dominate the south entrance. A bronze relief depicting the signing of the Louisiana Purchase by Livingston, Monroe and Marbois and the Fountain of the Centaurs are the most outstanding features on the north grounds.

The present Capitol, completed in 1917 and occupied the following year, is the third Capitol in Jefferson City and the sixth in Missouri history. The first seat of state government was housed in the Mansion House, Third and Vine Streets, St. Louis; the second was in the Missouri Hotel, Maine and Morgan Streets, also in St. Louis. St. Charles was designated as temporary capital of the state in 1821 and remained the seat of government until 1826 when Jefferson City became the permanent capital city. The first Capitol in Jefferson City burned in 1837 and a second structure completed in 1840 burned when the dome was struck by lightning on February 5, 1911.

The present Capitol was constructed for $4,215,000, including site and furnishings. It is five stories high, 437 feet long, 300 feet wide in the center and 200 feet wide in the wings. The dome is 238 feet high and the height of the wings is 88 feet. In includes 500,000 square feet of floor space.