Photo: Stained glass in the Indiana Statehouse

After winding my way through security, the lower level, up an elevator, and to the reception desk, I waited for the tour of the Indiana Statehouse to begin. I wandered around the rotunda area. The area was flanked by life-sized statues of Justice, Law, and the like at the second story level. One, I later learned, was modeled on an Indiana housewife. She did in fact look quite different—more modest—than the other Greek-inspired statues.

Above them was a stained-glass window that was actually located a hundred feet or so below the Statehouse dome. In the cool and quiet of the rotunda, I laid on my back to fully appreciate the calm, blue beauty of the glass.

stained glass under the dome atop the Indiana Statehouse

The Statehouse was made with granite from Maine, marble from Vermont and Italy, and, of course, limestone from Indiana. The current structure was built for just under $2 million back in the 1800s. Alas, this building is not the same one that housed the body of Lincoln on his stop from Washington D.C. to his final resting place in Springfield. The Indiana Statehouse is one of the few statehouses that still house all three branches of government: the governor’s office, both houses of the legislature, and the Indiana Supreme Court.

While we couldn’t enter the legislative chambers or the governor’s office—we could only gaze through the windows at the former—we were able to enter the court. The chamber was lined with photos of past justices and dark wood paneling. The windows were stained glass sporting what could be interpreted as the eyes of owls…reminding the justices of the need for wisdom.

stained glass in the Indiana Supreme Court at the Indiana StatehouseThe tour included lots of lessons. There were stories about Col. Richard Owen who oversaw a prison camp in Indianapolis during the Civil War and was so beloved by the Confederate prisoners—yes, beloved. By the Confederate prisoners he was responsible for.—that they paid to have a memorial bust made for the Indiana Statehouse. (Replicas reside in the student unions at Indiana University and Purdue University). There were tales of the governor/farmer at the time the Statehouse was built. There were even pop quizzes about the Indiana flag. (Just in case you are ever quizzed, the Indiana flag has 19 stars, Indiana being the 19th state to enter the Union. This is good to know in case the tour guide tests you, which he will. Repeatedly.)

If you are interested in Indiana history or history in general, I recommend the tour. The guide was thoroughly knowledgeable and wove tales into his talk about the Statehouse. The only way it could have been better was if I were visiting during times when the three branches of Indiana government were in session. Excuse me, Governor or Speaker of the House, could I have a word with you about the direction Indiana is headed?

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