Facts and Figures
STATE HOUSE -- The Rhode Island State House was built in 1895. It has 327,000 cubic feet of white Georgia marble; 15 million bricks and 1,309 tons of iron floor beams. At night, the building is lit by 109 floodlights and 2 searchlights. The offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State and General Treasurer are located in the State House. Also in the State House are the meeting chambers of the House of Representatives and Senate.
INDEPENDENT MAN -- Standing 11 feet tall and 278 feet above ground, the Independent Man is a gold-covered, bronze statue placed atop the State House on December 18, 1899. The Independent Man is a symbol of the independent spirit which led Roger Williams to settle here. The statue weighs more than 500 pounds and is covered with a thin gold covering called "gold leaf." The spear held by the Independent Man reaches to 14 feet. The statue was designed by sculptor George Brewster.
ROTUNDA -- The Rotunda is the round central open area of the State House, directly below the dome and on which is located the seal of the State of Rhode Island. Located one-half floor above the ground floor and one-half floor below the second floor, it is a central meeting place in the State House, with stairs leading to the chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives. It is used for a number of events, gatherings and announcements during the year.
STATE SEAL -- In the middle of the Rotunda, in the center of the floor, is a brass replica of the State Seal, embedded into the marble floor. At the center of the seal is an anchor, which symbolizes hope and reminds us of the importance of water to the Ocean State. Above the anchor is the word "Hope," drawn from the words of Roger Williams to the early settlers: "Hope in the Divine." A garland of leaves surrounds the shield which holds the anchor and around it all are the words "Seal of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 1636."
THE DOME -- One hundred forty-nine feet above the Rotunda floor is the State House dome, the fourth largest unsupported marble dome in the world, and 50 feet in diameter at its widest point (the three larger are St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, 1; the Minnesota State Capital, 2; the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, 3). Painted inside the dome is a mural by Scituate artist James Allen King. Illness made it impossible for King to paint the mural, so he gave his original sketches to three other artists (George DeFelice, Robert C. Haun and Victor Zucchi) who completed the work. The King design was called "The Four Freedoms" and depicts four important aspects of the lives of the early Rhode Island settlers: The Land Grant; Religious Tolerance; Pioneering and the Origins of Construction; Beginnings of Industry.
STATE ROOM -- On the second floor of the State House is the State Room, the entrance to the Executive Chamber and Governor's offices. Inside the room, whose windows look to the south over the city of Providence, are a number of beautiful items and some of Rhode Island's most precious treasures. A crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling of the State Room, which has a marble fireplace at each end. Above one fireplace is one of the most famous Gilbert Stuart paintings of George Washington. Also in the room, in a glass enclosure, is a silver service set, made in 1907 for the battleship the USS Rhode Island. To the left of the silver set is Rhode Island's piece of moon rock and a small Rhode Island flag which accompanied astronauts on a voyage to the moon.
THE STATE LIBRARY -- Across from the State Room, on the north side of the second floor, is the State Library, operated by the Secretary of State's office. Like other libraries, it has books, magazines and newspapers. It also has official documents and records of the United States government and its states. Also here is information about Rhode Island history, politics, science and social science. The State Library is a beautiful room, with lots of dark stained wood and gold leaf and three levels of book shelves.
SENATE CHAMBER -- This is the room where Rhode Island's 38 elected State Senators meet to discuss legislation which may become law. At the head of the room, which has desks for each of the 38 Senators, is a raised bench with three seats -- one for the President of the Senate, who is the Presiding Officer; one for the Secretary of State, who is also the Secretary of the Senate; and one for visiting dignitaries. Above and behind this bench is a spectator gallery. The room is 56 feet wide, 44 feet long and 46 feet high, with dark mahogany furniture. High above the Senate floor are the seals of the original 13 states.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES -- Across the second floor from the Senate, on the west side of the State House, is the House of Representatives, the meeting room for Rhode Island's 75 elected Representatives. The room has 75 oak desks for each of the Representatives and at the head of the room is a raised desk for the Speaker of the House, who controls the meetings. A huge skylight fills the center of the ceiling and colorful tapestries hang on the left and right walls. Above the chamber and at both ends are spectator galleries.
THE LIBERTY BELL -- The liberty bell, a reproduction of the original Liberty Bell, is in the foyer (entrance hall) on the south entrance to the State House. It was donated to the people of Rhode Island by the U.S. Treasury Department in 1950, when Harry S Truman was president. It is about 3-1/2 feet tall and the diameter of the bell at its widest part is about 3-1/2 feet. It is such a realistic copy that is even has a crack like the original Liberty Bell.
THE GETTYSBURG GUN -- The Gettysburg Gun is found in the foyer of the north entrance to the State House, in front of a number of Civil War flags. This cannon was last fired during the 1863 Civil War battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and still has a cannonball stuck in its muzzle. The cannonball became stuck when soldiers of Rhode Island's Light Artillery First Regiment, Battery B, were loading the shot after it was hit from another shell. The heat from the explosion caused the shot to become jammed in the muzzle opening.
THE ROYAL CHARTER -- Just outside the entrance to the Senate Chamber, locked in a large steel vault, are three of Rhode Island's most precious documents. On the back wall is the Royal Charter of 1663, given by King Charles II of England and guaranteeing the Rhode Island settlers freedom of religion and the freedom to govern their own colony. On one side of the swinging doors is the Declaration of Thirteen States of America, a handwritten original or the Declaration of Independence given to each of the original colonies. On the other door is the Gaspee Commission, a document from King George II of England. The Gaspee was an English ship which prevented Rhode Island shippers from sailing and trading freely in their own harbor. It was burned by Rhode Island patriots and thus became the first armed conflict of the American Revolution.
MILITARY SERVICEMEN -- Placed around the second floor corridors are six statues of military servicemen, made of Italian marble and carved by sculptor G. Constanzo and purchased by the state in 1945. They commemorate the end of World War II and represent the people who served this country during that time: the paratrooper, engineer, plane spotter, infantryman, aviator and seaman Marine.
USS RHODE ISLAND BELL -- Outside the entrance to the House of Representatives is another bell. This one was used aboard the battleship USS Rhode Island.
OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST --There are a number of other interesting items on display in the State House. Also on the second floor are a number of bronze-covered books in special cases, with the names of the more than 2,000 men and women who lost their lives during the Second World War. Throughout the corridors of the State House are paintings of all Rhode Island's governors through the years.
As always, your comments concerning this page are welcomed and appreciated.
Thank you for stopping by!