Autumn is finally upon us in New England after a long, dry and brutally hot summer. It’s been inaugurated by several days of cold, rainy weather, but before too long we’ll start to see the colorful foliage that marks the season in this region.
With that in mind, I wanted to showcase the Vermont State House for this month’s Capitol First. Vermont is often held up as the finest foliage state in the nation, and I first visited Vermont’s lovely and small capital city Montpelier during the height of foliage season.
Vermont was the first state to join the union that wasn’t one of the original thirteen: Vermont’s territory had been disputed between its neighbors New Hampshire and New York before it gained its own separate stature in 1789, first as a short-lived (and mostly unrecognized) Republic of Vermont, and then by 1791 as a state. It remains one of the smallest states both in population and land area, and its capital city is the smallest in the country with just under 8,000 permanent residents.
The state house itself is relatively small, but is well situated on Montpelier’s busiest street. True to Vermont’s nature, the state house is accessible and lacking in pomp; it is one of the few I’ve visited that doesn’t require a metal detector for entry, and the building itself is quite welcoming and open.
It’s presentation of Vermont history is understated as well. Major Vermonters are featured widely, and for such a small state it offers some impressive former residents: two US Presidents were born in Vermont (Calvin Coolidge and Chester A. Arthur, both of whom, interestingly, acceded to the Presidency as Vice Presidents whose President passed away unexpectedly). The state house also features a painting of Vermont Native Commodore Dewey defeating the Spanish at Manila Harbor, and a more recent portrait of Vermont Governor, Presidential candidate, and former chair of the DNC Howard Dean. A statue of Vermont native and Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen stands guard outside the building’s main entry. That entry is also flanked by two cannons captured from the Spanish by Dewey’s fleet at Manila.
The building itself is topped by Agriculture, a statue of the Greek god Ceres. A large hill rises behind the state house, which adds a dose of natural Vermont beauty to the scene.
Here are various photos of mine from the Vermont State House. I hope to get up there again soon.