Not only are we welcome to come visit the new Capitol anytime it is open, now it is easier to get a tour than ever before.
It sits like a jewel on the brow of a little hill in downtown Jackson. It was conceived of at the turn of the 20th century in 1901, and was designed purposefully as a break from the past with a view to the wondrous century that lay before it.
It cost a little over a million dollars to build. And how the state got the money to build it is one of the favorite stories of tour guide Brenda Cole.
"It was actually paid for by back taxes that were owed to the state of Mississippi by Illinois Central Railroad," said Cole.
I called Brenda a ‘tour guide.' and although the new capitol is over a century old, it was just recently that the legislative leaders asked the department of archives and history to implement regularly scheduled guided tours of the building.
Now, you could call ahead and schedule a tour all along, or just pop in and take a self-guided tour. But there is too much to see, and more importantly too much to miss, if you don't have a guide. All are volunteers, and all seem to have some aspect of the building they like to show off.
Sharon Anderson likes the totality of the building itself.
"I just like people to know what a treasure it is," said Anderson. "An architectural treasure."
Brenda Davis is the full-time curator at the new capitol. She echoes the thought of the building's architectural significance and says that is what strikes most first-time visitors, especially out-of-state-ers, and especially those folks who's hobby is visiting state capitol buildings.
"And we hear this a lot, it's in the top five of the ones we've seen," said Davis. "We like to hear the top five. We like it even better when we hear this is the best one we've ever seen."
"People from out of state and out of the country who visit here are impressed, but the visitor services coordinator, Kathy Broom, brings it home for us with an invitation for us Mis'sippians to come see our house.
"And so many Mississippians have not see their own capitol. It's their capitol," said Broom. "So we want them to come and see it, too. It's so beautiful."
And now we can see it for free, any weekday. 9:30 and 11am, and then at 1 o'clock and 2:30 in the afternoon. Just drop in. It's quite a place. And you can not only see it, but have a guide who can show it to you and tell you its story, also.
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