State Of Tennessee Capitol Building In Nashville

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State Of Tennessee Capitol Building In Nashville

State Of Tennessee Capitol Building is only one of 12 state capitols in the US that doesn’t have a dome.

State Of Tennessee Capitol Building is only one of 12 state capitols in the US that doesn’t have a dome.

 

Behind The Scenes In Nashville | Darrin Henry

We’re inside the State of Tennessee capitol building in Nashville USA. It’s the home of the Tennessee Legislature and other important aspects of governing the state.

Tennessee State capitol tours are free and take place throughout the day, which is why we’re here.

Four fun facts about Tennessee that we’ve found out just waiting on the tour to begin:

  1. Tennessee Smokies – turns out the great Smoky Mountains Tennessee is the most visited national park in the whole USA. Yes, it beats Yellowstone national park
  2. Famous Tennesseans – President Andrew Jackson is regarded as one of the most famous people from Tennessee but in actual fact he was born in South Carolina.
  3. Nashville spoilers – as fans of the NBC Nashville TV show we’ve just found out many of the scenes with Mayor Teddy Conrad are actually shot right here in the hallways. Fantastic.
  4. Tennessee motto – the state motto is Agriculture and Commerce, taken from the wording used on the state seal. The Tennessee state flower is the Iris. The Tennessee nickname, Volunteer State.

 

Tennessee State Capitol Building Tour

The Americans love their state capitol buildings; and so do we. We’ve discovered these grand palatial centres of state government are free to visit and often include a guided tour.

Elected Tennessee state representatives from each district across the state all come together in the capitol building to vote on legislation and laws. The Nashville governor’s office is also in the building (why the TV series shoots here).

Tennessee State Capitol building - gleaming hallways.

Tennessee State Capitol building – gleaming hallways.

Part of the Tennessee capitol ceiling’s decorative images.

Part of the Tennessee capitol ceiling’s decorative images.

Tennessee state capitol tours will visit the press briefing room.

Tennessee state capitol tours will visit the press briefing room.

 

There was the obligatory metal detector and security check on the way in. But now, with our freshly printed ID tags stuck on our shirts, we’re free to wander around on our own with an apparent absence of security personnel, which feels quite weird in security-obsessed America. Mind you, beady-eyed cctv cameras are recording every step of our visit.

The State Of Tennessee Capitol Building is clearly a working building. There are offices and office workers in business suits going about the daily grind while curious tourists in shorts and flip flops poke their heads through the doorways and pose for selfies on the stone staircases.

Famous People From Tennessee

The Tennessee State Capitol building itself is perched on top of a hill, the highest point in the city of Nashville. I get the impression each state tries to outdo the other with a more impressive capitol building.

Inside is stunning. Polished floors, beautifully arched ceilings with stone inlaid eagles and monstrous golden chandeliers stretching overhead. I can’t help thinking how great it would be to do a photo shoot in here.

There are busts of famous Tennesseans as they’re called; made from stone, marble, bronze… they all seem to be different.

Portraits of distinguished Tennesseans keep an eye on us as we gawk and point the camera.

The building’s architect, William Strickland, died in 1854 during the construction project. At his request he was entombed in the state capitol’s northeast wall.

The plaque on this monument reads: ANDREW JACKSON, Born March 15, 1767 - Died June 8, 1845. Seventh President of the United States 1829 - 1837. Commander of Victorious American Forces at Battle of New Orleans January 8, 1815. This equestrian statue by Clark Mills was erected by the Tennessee Historical Society, May 20, 1880. Duplicates of this statue stand in New Orleans and Washington DC.

The plaque on this monument reads: ANDREW JACKSON, Born March 15, 1767 – Died June 8, 1845.
Seventh President of the United States 1829 – 1837.
Commander of Victorious American Forces at Battle of New Orleans January 8, 1815.
This equestrian statue by Clark Mills was erected by the Tennessee Historical Society, May 20, 1880. Duplicates of this statue stand in New Orleans and Washington DC.

A sample of the busts on display around the building. Left: Sampson W Keeble, the first African American Representative to the Tennessee State Legislature in 1873-1874 Middle: James Knox Polk, President of the United States 1845-1890 Right: Cordell Hull, Captain Fourth Tennessee Volunteer Infantry 1898-1899

A sample of the busts on display around the building.
Left: Sampson W Keeble, the first African American Representative to the Tennessee State Legislature in 1873-1874
Middle: James Knox Polk, President of the United States 1845-1890
Right: Cordell Hull, Captain Fourth Tennessee Volunteer Infantry 1898-1899

 

Tennessee State House Of Representatives

During the guided tour we go onto the floor of the Tennessee House of Representatives, the lower house of the legislative branch.

This is a huge limestone constructed chamber with tall Greek styled pillars, ornate ceilings and thick, red drapes suspended from gilded curtain rails. The stars and stripes hangs on a pole at the far end alongside a desk from where the speaker of the house keeps order. The Tennessee state flag is on the other side.

Filling the room in perfect alignment are 50 wooden desks with seating for the 99 elected representatives. In actual fact it looks like an exam room waiting on students to arrive.

Two sets of voting buttons are fixed in each desk and large electronic displays on the side walls show immediately how each politician has voted. Today the chamber is empty, but on days when it is in session, citizens can keep tabs on their representatives from spacious public galleries above.

State Legislature: When this place is in session it is the Lower House of the Legislative Branch, the Tennessee State House of Representatives.

State Legislature: When this place is in session it is the Lower House of the Legislative Branch, the Tennessee State House of Representatives.

Tennessee State House of Representatives is over-looked by two public galleries with a maximum seating occupancy of 128 on each side.

Tennessee State House of Representatives is over-looked by two public galleries with a maximum seating occupancy of 128 on each side.

Tennessee House of Representatives qualifications -  you need to have lived in your district for 3 years and be at least 21 years old. That’s it. Each person elected to the house is assigned a desk in this room and serves a two year term. Cameras televise proceedings for Tennesseans who want to follow the business of the day but are unable to make it to the State Capitol.

Tennessee House of Representatives qualifications – you need to have lived in your district for 3 years and be at least 21 years old. That’s it. Each person elected to the house is assigned a desk in this room and serves a two year term. Cameras televise proceedings for Tennesseans who want to follow the business of the day but are unable to make it to the State Capitol.

Buttons for voting in the Tennessee State House of Representatives. A green for Yes, a red for No and blue to declare you are present but not voting. The screen on the walls turn colour immediately to reflect the votes.

Buttons for voting in the Tennessee State House of Representatives. A green for Yes, a red for No and blue to declare you are present but not voting. The screen on the walls turn colour immediately to reflect the votes.

 

The Tennessee State Senate

 

Upper House of the Tennessee State Legislature, the Tennessee State Senate. The constitution allows one third number of senators as legislators, so there are 33. Senators need to be at least 30 years old and are elected to 4 year terms. Elections are staggered; even number districts vote, then two years later odd number districts vote, meaning half the senators are up for election every two years. There is no limit on the number of times a senator can run for office.

Upper House of the Tennessee State Legislature, the Tennessee State Senate. The constitution allows one third number of senators as legislators, so there are 33. Senators need to be at least 30 years old and are elected to 4 year terms. Elections are staggered; even number districts vote, then two years later odd number districts vote, meaning half the senators are up for election every two years. There is no limit on the number of times a senator can run for office.

The Tennessee State Senate also has a speaker of the house, chosen by the other senators. This position is quite important as the speaker is also the lieutenant governor of Tennessee. (Sharon taking the podium to announce the arrival of What The Saints Did Next)

The Tennessee State Senate also has a speaker of the house, chosen by the other senators. This position is quite important as the speaker is also the lieutenant governor of Tennessee.
(Sharon taking the podium to announce the arrival of What The Saints Did Next)

Tennessee State Capitol building, a great example of scale inside.

Tennessee State Capitol building, a great example of scale inside.

 

State Of Tennessee Capitol Building

All in all, the Capitol of Tennessee State building is rather impressive. The security guard on the door actually set the tone, very friendly and welcoming. Once inside our tour guide was much the same.

The freedom and encouragement for members of the public to access the building stems from the concept it is the people’s building. The comfortable gallery, voting display and open hallways help toward transparency and accountability. I’m already thinking how we could incorporate some of these ideas back home in St Helena. Regular tours of the historic Castle in Jamestown – why not?

If you’re in Nashville, I recommend a visit to the State of Tennessee Capitol Building.

The State of Tennessee Capitol Building sits on the highest point in the city of Nashville, on a hill once known as Cedar Knob. The cornerstone was laid on 4 July, 1845. The building was completed in 1859. The architect who designed the building is entombed in its northeast wall.

The State of Tennessee Capitol Building sits on the highest point in the city of Nashville, on a hill once known as Cedar Knob. The cornerstone was laid on 4 July, 1845. The building was completed in 1859. The architect who designed the building is entombed in its northeast wall.

* for the purposes of this post I’ve gone with the American spelling of ‘capitol’

 

 

By |2018-09-20T01:13:52+00:00November 11th, 2015|City Life, USA|3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Alison November 12, 2015 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    I think she is delivering her speech in French!

  2. Patrick G Henry November 11, 2015 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Very interesting, really good pictures, good to see Sharon making announcement running for office.

    • Saints November 12, 2015 at 9:11 am - Reply

      Thanks for the comment Borbs. Sharon does look quite at home on that podium!

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