Michigan's domed capitol is so splendid that it's hard to believe it ever had a precursor. In fact, this is the state’s third capitol building. A three-year restoration brought the 1872 building back to its original splendor.
The neoclassical-style capitol's highlights include a glass floor underneath the rotunda dome, which is painted to resemble a starry sky, and glass cases filled with Civil War flags. White pine pillars painted to look like marble line the rotunda, and marble flooring from Vermont quarries spreads throughout the building. More than 100 artists were brought in to re-create the designs adorning walls, iron staircases and doorways. On the second floor is the famous Michigan Gallery of Governors—paintings of each man and woman who has held the office. Governors traditionally pay for their own renderings, so the results are varied in style and content.
Despite the elaborate artisan work, the capitol is first and foremost a place of law. The mandate set forth by the preservation committee established that the capitol would remain, above all, a suitable seat for Michigan's state government. Thusly, all areas are open to the public. Both chambers of the Senate and the House, as well as the Governor's office, offer architecturally splendid views of contemporary politics.