Family and Friends,
Quick! What's the capitol of Missouri? No, it's neither of the biggies: Kansas City nor St. Louis, though both have coveted the title. Here's a hint: It has more letters in its name than any other state capitol city. The answer appears at the end of this short missive.
After three consecutive days of pedaling, during which we covered about 65 miles of the Katy Trail, we needed to move truck and trailer forward to the next section, so broke camp at Franklin, MO, and drove on to our next stop. Since we're attempting to accomplish the slowest crossing of The Katy, we had a day for sightseeing and the Missouri state capitol building is renowned for its grand style and adorned with a million dollars worth of art. The building itself is Missouri's third capitol, the other two having burned down. The first was consumed when a fire was carelessly left burning in the Secretary of State's hearth. The second, a rather ungainly heap, judging by the photos, was struck by lightning and went up in flames.
Modeled after the national capitol, the building is grand and the interior is quite beautiful.
The ceiling of the rotunda is painted with classical themes and there are dozens of lunettes, each by a different artist, painted above doorways and in arches throughout the building that depict scenes from Missouri and its history. In 1915, a million dollars bought a lot of art!
For our money, however, Thomas Hart Benton's A Social History of Missouri, takes the prize. Covering 100-plus feet of wall space in a meeting room next to the House chambers, it is absolutely wonderful.
Done in vibrant colors, it's packed with action and the figures in the foreground are larger than life size, their features, musculature and actions exaggerated. The legislators who commissioned it in the 1930s probably had in mind something more traditional, with famous Missourians from Lewis and Clark to Harry Truman done in grand heroic poses. They returned from recess and were shocked by Benton's social realism. Some suggested they just whitewash over it. Benton explained that they’d asked for a social history of Missouri and he’d painted ordinary people doing ordinary things. In the end, they just let it be. Thank goodness!
OK, now for your answer: Jefferson City! It's near the geographic center of the state, right on the Missouri River and named for Thomas Jefferson. Missourians often shorten it to Jeff City or just JC. Twice, other cities have tried to pry the capitol away but both times voters have thwarted them and so Missouri's capitol is in a modest-sized city in the center of the state.
Cheryl and Keith