tv The Civil War CSPAN September 21, 2014 11:49am-12:01pm EDT
american history tv's weekly program that takes viewers into archives, museums, and historic sites around the country. isamerican history tv joining our comcast cable partners to showcase the history of st. paul, minnesota. to learn more about this, visit c-span.org. look atnue now with our the history of st. paul. this is american history tv on c-span3. >> this minnesota state capitol is the third capitol building built in st. paul. the first was built in downtown st. paul in the 1850's even when labor still a territory. they expanded that space. by 1881, it was a brick and wood building that was no longer served the purposes of minnesota very well.
a fire burned to the ground. there was a second capitol built in the same location. it was a functional space but not meeting the needs of expanding state government of minnesota. the ventilation was not very good. even a few years after that had been built and occupied, there was discussion among the legislature to say we need to find a building that is permanent and going to accommodate the needs of the public as well as our growing state government. there was a commission put together, a board of capitol commissioners in the 1890's. they chose an architect to build this third and present-day state capitol. they had a groundbreaking in 1896 and it opened to the public in 1905, the first week of january 1905 it was open for the legislative session. if you were to walk into the building of that time, this was a state-of-the-art building. it had its own power plant next door.
it was wired with the electricity. it had working elevators. it had all the convenience of indoor plumbing as well, so this was a spectacular public building for the people of minnesota. cass gilbert was born in ohio, but as a youngster moved here with his family to st. paul. he claimed st. paul as his home. in 1895 was selected as the architect for the state capitol building. there is a lot of interesting stories behind him being selected. he was a qualified architect for one thing. his plans were what they were looking for. every architect in the competition had to submit a drawing of the building. some of the requirements the board wanted was to have a building with a big dome, the emblematic center of the state capitol would be the dome. some of the features he was able to add to that were appealing to them.
there were some questions pray -- people questioned his connection to the vice president of the board of commissioners. he lived next door to his mother, cass gilbert's mother. they were friends, so there was a good relationship between cass gilbert and the vice president of the commission. some people questioned, did he get it because he was already well-known by one of the commissioners? i think by his own merit he qualified as probably the best architect for the project. as you walk into the state capitol, it really is a magnificent piece of architecture and decoration. everything fits together so well. it is kind of like his first masterpiece, one of the great buildings of his career is the minnesota capitol. when you walk up to the front or drive by, you will see the white marble. this is georgia marble. minnesota does not have marble. there was early controversy about what stone he would use for capitol construction.
he wanted to emulate that it tying renaissance. that italian renaissance. he was looking at a new marble being quarried in georgia. some say there was animosity after the civil war, 40 years removed from the civil war, so why are you buying marble from georgia? i don't know if that is necessarily the case. he was trying to re-create the italian renaissance building. the other option he could have pursued was to have granite from st. paul, that was an up-and-coming industry in the state. there was a lot of desire for him to use that as the stone because they would hire people from the quarries and people from minnesota to shape the stone as you put it on the cladding of the building. he fought hard to keep the white georgia marble for the exterior and won out eventually. the board had a vote.
after several votes, they were persuaded to use the white georgia marble. there was a compromise. they have the ground floor and steps made of st. paul granite, so there's still a lot of minnesota stone. the interior stone is from southern minnesota. there are other types of stone from minnesota incorporated into the decoration. the other part of using the white georgia marble was the company were the general contractors for the building. they went down and least the quarry where the marble was located. they eliminated the middleman. they cut it and moved it into workshops behind the capitol construction area where craftsmen and stonecutters could shape the stone as needed, so you were still hiring those labor workers and special skilled craftsmen to build this
building. that was a good remedy to a soluon where there might have been some controversy about what stone he would use as cladding for the exterior. one thing you'll see is the dome. that is based on st. peter's in the vatican. if you look at that dome and this you will see the same columns, you will see some of the same architectural detail in this space. you will see large columns inside the building. big granite columns, italian marble columns, you will see symmetry, which is an important part of keeping the architectural tradition together in these spaces. along with that you will see beautiful stenciling on the ceilings and large paintings. it is in the basement of the capitol. it was something cass gilbert wanted to have to have the european influence with the
different types of stone from europe, africa, and all over the world to be brought here for decoration. he wanted it to be a space that would be emblematic of what a hall would be. they would have their political discussions upstairs. in the basement, they would have a restaurant. that would be a place they could come after the work was done and have fellowship and friendship and talk and discuss things in a more informal situation. there are also german sayings that are mainly german drinking slogans. that was fine until we were fighting germany and was a lot of anti-german sentiment in the state. there were a lot of people trying to prohibit the sale of alcohol. with the german influence and drinking slogans, it was painted over. it was whitewashed. over time, there were efforts to bring back some of the original
stencils. that might be out for a few years and then that got covered up as well. that was restored in 1999 and opened again to the public in 2000. as part of the process, our conservators did the initial investigation and discovered 22 layers of white paint over the original ceiling. that was a big part of revealing the important space in the state capitol. we have a governor in the 1980's saw the investment of this building and wanted this building to start looking back to what it was originally. that started a slow process of restoring the house and senate chambers. anotherdid the wrath skill o building and parts of the supreme court chambers brought back with the original carpets
and walls. the next phase of work is to complete the entire restoration and repair project. these other projects were leading up to the bigger project. it is one of those things that evolved from small projects to the bigger project today. when this building open to the public, i think people were amazed. that is one word you often read about. they often lost their breath walking into the rotunda because it is a 142-foot inner ceiling where you look up and see this big six-foot wide chandelier. i think there were a lot of oohs and ahhs and people were amazed by the beauty of the architecture. they had seen the outside built for nine years. when you walk in, the color schemes were perfect. it is a nice warm building. it is a space where people can feel welcome because you have easy access to the different chambers. you are part of this building. you are part of the government. that was the intent. critics all over the united states marveled at it as well.
one thing st. paul people were living with was the idea we were still on the frontier. we were at the turn of the 19 century and people were still thinking we lived in log cabins and did not have much of modern conveniences. for the people back east making those judgments to see favorable reports and artists and architects commenting about the greatness of this building that really made st. paul come up a notch culturally. it was a center of culture for st. paul and the state of minnesota. i think people were proud to say we have arrived. you can't call us a backwoods frontier state anymore. our building rivals anything you can build in new york or philadelphia. that was nice for the people of the state to say we have a marvelous building that will stand the test of time. >> throughout the weekend, american history tv is featuring st. paul, minnesota. our staff recently traveled
there to learn about its rich history. learn more about st. paul and other stops at www.c-span.org/localcontent. you are watching american history tv all weekend on c-span3. next, u.s. naval academy professor lori bogle talked about the american soldiers taken prisoner during the korean war. including the effects of captivity. and attempts at political indoctrination. professor bogle explained how the warring nations used prisoners to intimidate their enemies and described the effects of captivity and attempts by the enemy at political indoctrination. the u.s. naval academy is in annapolis, maryland. this class is about 50 minutes. >> good afternoon, class. attention on deck. >> at ease. all right, last time we were talking about the korean war.