View of the Capitol Building from the Southeast grounds
A historical marker noting how the iron fencing around the Capitol Grounds was incorporated into the overall architecture. Reads: "William Munro Johnson, hired in 1988 to plan the Capitol's landscaping, designed ornate iron fencing with a granite foundation to demarcate the perimeter of the grounds. The wrought- and cast-iron fencing, manufactured by Mast, Foos & Company of Ohio, uniquely features Texas' Lone Star motif. Incorporating iron gates at the five carriage- and six pedestrian-entrances, the fence also functioned to keep wandering livestock off Capitol Square. In 1907, the vehicular entrances were widened, and the gates removed and dispersed to several Austin locations. In 1996, the fence was completely reconditioned, with new pedestrian entrances added to improve access. Also, it was painted in its original black and gold colors, although metallic paint was used instead of gold leaf. Several of the original gates were restored and returned to the grounds; the remainder were reproduced from the originals."
A historical marker noting the original location of the grotto and lagoon. Reads: "In conjunction with the City Beautiful Movement that swept the country during the early 20th century, the Austin Daily Statesman in 1904 proclaimed 'It is now possible to make luxurious scenery out of a barren waste, and transform a piece of ground which even a farmer would despair into a veritable Garden of Eden.' With a newly completed artesian well providing an abundant water supply, a limestone cave-like structure, or grotto, and a goldfish-stocked lagoon with rustic footbridge, central spraying fountain and exotic plants were installed here in 1904. Initially, the area was lush with hearty water plants and ferns, but by the 19050s it had lost its vitality. Very little evidence of the grotto and lagoon existed by the 1980s"
No grotto or lagoon here
Walking through the 100+ year old oak trees to the Capitol Building
Still walking towards the building
Closeup of the "Statue of the Goddess of Liberty", mounted on top of the Capitol rotunda. This is the second version, the first has since been removed as part of the 1990's restoration and is on display at the Texas State History Museum. As a kid, I remember there being a donation campaign in the schools to help fund the redo. The statue is something to see from a distance. And we like our stars here in Texas. But up close, the face and body have been exaggerated to a point where it really looks a bit like a man.
Marker noting the Artesian Well and East Drinking Fountain just outside the Capitol steps. Reads: "The artesian well completed at this site in 1889 furnished an ample and inexpensive water supply for the new Capitol. At a depth of about 1,550 feet, natural pressure forced water from the Trinity aquifer to the surface. The powerful flow of water satisfied drinking, sanitary and fire protection needs for the Capitol. A coal-fired boiler converted the well water into steam, which turned the building's first electric generator, and circulated through radiators to warm the Capitol's interiors. The abundance of well water for irrigation made possible the first landscape improvements, including a lawn of sod and more than a 100 new trees. A cast-iron drinking fountain placed over the well in 1903, provided continuously running well water and metal drinking cups hanging from chains. Convinced that the mineralized water possessed medicinal value, visitors hauled it away in bottles for the next 73 years. In 1928, a granite water fountain replaced the cast-iron fixture. Officials closed the well in 1980 due to more stringent water quality standards. This reproduction fountain, installed in 1996, provides safe drinking water with a gentle step on the root lever."
Closeup of the reproduction fountain itself
The root lever to turn on the fountain
The water nozzle
Back down the driveway looking towards the Capitol Building
Looking up at the six seals from the Capitol steps
This bronze statue, named "Texas Cowboy" stands on the Southwest grounds and is the artist's portrayal of a typical Texas Cowboy riding a bucking horse. Plaque reads: "This statue was fashioned by Constance Whitney Warren of New York, during her residence in Paris, France. This wonderful work of art was presented by this distinguished American Artist through the solicitation of Pat M. Neff, governor of Texas and Charles Cason, of New York as a memorial gift to Texas, the native home of the Cowboy. This bronze tribute to the rough and romantic riders of the range was unveiled by Governor Neff in the presence of state officials and the Members of the Legislature. January 17, 1925"
The spacious southwest grounds beyond the statue with a few Austin buildings in the background
Another shot of the Capitol building and it's pink granite lit up by the sun
Another closeup of the "Statue of the Goddess of Liberty". Still think the exagerated features make it look like a man.
I had originally thought these were the House Chambers when I took the photo. But I'm not almost positive they are third floor offices outside of the Chambers
Looking south towards the Capitol Building from the North Driveway. The Capitol Extension is underground in this area
Looking north from the Capitol steps. The Capitol Extension skylights are masked by the bushes and the guard barriers
A cistern on the northeast side of the Capitol Building that was previously used for rainwater collection. Plaque reads: "The cistern located below this site is one of two underground brick reservoirs built to store rainwater for use in the Capitol. Although by 1889, an artesian well was supplying an abundance of highly mineralized water, the two cisterns continued to be a source of fresh water until a municipal water supply became available. Rainwater, collected from the Capitol's room through a system of gutters, filled the cisterns through a series of concealed downspouts and pipes. A coal-filed steam pump in the Capitol's basement distributed the water throughout the building for drinking, sanitary needs and fire protection. The cistern water also filled a large iron take in the Capitol's attic, to provide power for the original hydraulic elevator. The cistern's top hatch, visible here, provided access for checking the water level and maintenance."
Wish more buildings in this era used such a well thought-out rainwater collection system for watering and conversation
Still walking around the Capitol Building, now on the northeast side
Cornerstone on the northeast corner inscribed with the starting date of construction: "Commenced Feb 1, 1882".
On the east side of the Capitol, a plaque describing the Capitol Greenhouses that once stood on the grounds. Reads: "Four greenhouses have stood on Capitol Square at different periods. Each was designed to cultivate various plants and flowers to use on the grounds of the Capitol, governor's mansion, state cemetery and to provide potted plants and cut flowers to decorate public buildings. Little is know of the first greenhouse, constructed in 1875. The second structure, shown above, was built in 1908, but burned to the ground during the blizzard of 1925. A temporary building functioned as the greenhouse until completion of the fourth Capitol greenhouse about 1941. That structure was removed from the grounds in February 1958."
Historical Marker documenting the significance of the Capitol Grounds Design. Marker Reads: "Soon after completion of the Capitol in May 1888, the Capitol Board hired prominent Dallas civil engineer, William Munro Johnson, to design the landscaping of the grounds. His plan called for symmetrical, but curving, stone-edged carriage drives. An allee flanking a black-and-white diamond-patterned south walk was centered in a large oval. Sloping lawns, variegated tree and shrubbery plantings, and a decorative iron fence on a stone base completed his design. NO copy of the map detailing Johnson's plan has survived. However, a 1900 University of Texas thesis included a map of the grounds as they existed at that time, documenting the implementation of Johnson's basic scheme."
One of the many 100+ year old oak trees the line the Capitol grounds
These trees have been a silent witness to history
Back where we started