The free guided tour of the Colorado State Capitol Building is free for a reason. Yet I, unlike many of the other people in my group, stayed on until the end. I just waited and hoped that there would be some interesting historical nugget the tour guide would throw us that I knew I wouldn’t find in the pamphlet in my pocket.
Sadly no interesting piece of information was forthcoming. Nor was the tour interesting. In such places kids usually get restless and garner severe looks from adults, but in this case I could only give ones of pity as I was just as bored with our tour guide as they were. It is an interesting building with an interesting history, as is the state, but the tour guide did everything she could do to show us otherwise.
But, the tour was free after all so there’s only so much legitimate complaining I can do. Although I am amazed that a tour guide of any kind can forget the information they’re supposed to relay. Ours, a handful of times, just waved her hand absently as she couldn’t recall a fact and would say, “whatever it is,” as she shrugged and continued on.
Don’t get me wrong though, I was still pleased with my visit. I just wish that I had grabbed the brochures at the tour desk and gone on my own way. It’s a wonderful thing to have open government offices like these, and I should’ve taken advantage and explored them at my own pace, as I did the capitol’s dome.
There was no one at the dome tour desk to ask, so the guide assumed that access to the dome wasn’t available for several hours. Thankfully, by this point, I learned my lesson and just continued on my own and followed the signs and headed up to see if I could go up in the dome.
On my way I discovered the historical museum, which explains everything there is to know about the building, known as Mr. Brown’s Attic.
In 1868 developer Henry C. Brown donated ten acres to be used as the site for the new territorial capitol building. Twenty-six years later, in 1894, most of the building was in use after having doubled the allotted budget during 15 years of construction under architect Elijah E. Myers.
Interestingly enough, on a side note, Brown is also known for having moved Denver to an east-west street grid system. When Denver was initially established as a mining community, the roads ran parallel to the South Platte River. Downtown Denver still sits on this diagonal, contrary to the rest of the city.
Just having entered Brown’s Attic, I ran into an attendant who scoffed at the tour guide’s naivete in regards to the dome access. He told me to head right on up and enjoy myself. Happy with my fortune I made my way up the metal staircase and to a great view of the city. It’s unfortunate everyone else in the tour group was discouraged by the guide, because they missed the best parts of the building in my opinion.
Both the museum on the way and the view from the capitol dome were excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was glad I went. After all, the opportunity to go up in the dome was what initially interested me in going to tour the capitol. I wanted to see if a recent article in the Denver Post about the dome being in disrepair was true.
Unfortunately it was.
Access to the outside part of the dome was restricted since parts of it were crumbling and a chunk of stone might fall off. There was fencing up covering evident problem spots, but there’s concern more could come loose. And, as I was told by an attendant, there’s also been past issues with people jumping from the building for either publicity or out of despair.
I was disappointed by this closure, but happy to be up in the dome nonetheless. It was worth the boring tour, the uncomfortably warm building temperatures and the climb up – which is never easy when you’re a mile above sea level.
Also of note in the capitol right now: The Colorado Quilting Council is hosting a free exhibit until August 20th. And there are a ton of quilts on display. Due to the guided tour though, I didn’t get a chance to do much more than glance at a few of them as we went by. There are brochures available at the tour desk though that give an explanation on each quilt.