The first half of my South Dakota Adventure has been a wondrous combination of events, places, culture, cuisine and people.
Now at the halfway point in my trip and with The 2019 South Dakota Festival of Books approaching, I decided to finish up my free time with a tour of the South Dakota Capital Building, located in the state capital of Pierre.
This gorgeous building was constructed between 1905-1910 with a large addition/annex added in 1932. It is a combination of Colonial Revival, Classical Revival and Renaissance Styles of construction.
The building contains four floors. The first defined by a massive entry area highlighted by four statues set into the walls. They are individually titled, Wisdom, Courage, Integrity, and Vision and were designed to embody four aspects that all South Dakotans share.
Within this area also stands a series of glass enclosed display cases. They pay homage to South Dakota's First Ladies in the form of miniature replicas showcasing the dresses worn by each woman to the state inaugural ball. Included are individual portraits photos as well as pictures of their families and other related mementos.
Completing the first floor are two hallway art galleries where portraits or all the state's governors and the supreme court justices are displayed and a Medal of Honor Hall recognizing South Dakota recepients.
The second floor houses the offices of Governor Kristi Noem, and other state officials, along with a stunning rotunda area. The dome of the rotunda is 96-feet high. The bottom ring of the dome is designed to resemble a string of ribbons joined together, symbolizing the eternal nature of government.
The dome interior is decorated with sixteen images of the Tree of Life, acanthus leaves representing wisdom and a pasque flower, which is the state flower.
The third floor is the location for the House of Representatives and the Senate legisative offices and chambers, with the fourth floor providing galleries for pubic viewing of legislative sessions.
As impressive as the architecture of this building, the materials used to construct it are impeccable. Marble, brass and high quality woods fill each floor along with stained glass that elevate windows and transoms to works of art.
Then there are those special touches like curved masonry walls, hand stenciled ceilings and hallways, floors of marble, glass and concrete laid out in intricate designs, ornate water fountains, overstuffed leather furniture and a couple of old time phone booths, complete with phones, albeit non-functioning!
I spend over an hour wandering the capital building's hallowed halls. I found their beauty and sense of pride to be reflective of the spirit I'd encountered in the time I'd spent in the great state of South Dakota.
Inspired, I decided to stop into the governor's office and let her know.
As I approached the massive double door entry with a gleeming brass plaque reading, "Governor," I will admit to a bit of trepidation. After all, she is the highest government official in the state and I am only a visitor. Then I saw the second sign on her door.
"Please Walk In"
And that's just what i did.
Immediately I was greeted by one of Governor Noem's aides. Without pause, I shared my enthusiasm for the natural beauty of the state and the friendliness of the people. I went on to extol the state prison system, where the previous night I'd spent two plus hours with women inmates, and finished up with high praise for the beauty of the State Capitol Building.
By the time we were done chatting, the governor's aide had written down my name and my website and assured me that she would share my New Yorker's perspective Governor Noem.
As I departed from the building I felt good that the governor would start out her week getting at least one positive review of her work and her state.
I felt equally good in realizing that, despite being from a state 1,300 miles away, South Dakota is part of my nation. And within my allegiance to those united states, it was my citizen’s right to walk into in her office and say helllo.