To schedule your group of twenty or more, complete the group reservation form at www.nccapvisit.org. To cancel or change an already scheduled tour, call 919-807-7950 or toll-free at 866-724-8687.
This area's centerpiece is a 1970 copy of Antonio Canova's original statue of George Washington, which had been displayed in the original State House from 1820-1831. Canova sought to honor and even glorify Washington by depicting him in a Roman general's uniform with tunic, tightly-fitting body armor, and short cape fastened at the shoulder. The figure's short hair style is that of a Roman officer. Shown with a pen (stylus) in his hand, the seated Washington is writing (in Italian) the first words of his farewell address as presidenton a tablet.
Around the rotunda are several plaques and busts that honor important people and significant events in North Carolina's history:
Since 1840, these rooms, which feature furnishing of the 1840-1865 period, have served as the offices of North Carolina's governor. The massive 1850s-style armchairs were hand crafted, as well as the pier table, believed to have been crafted by the free black artisan, Thomas Day of Caswell County. Nineteenth-century style window hangings suspended from gilded wooden rods and a fine Wilton weave reproduction carpet, featuring classical motifs, complement the office furnishings. On occasion, the governor's office is opened for viewing.
This room originally was assigned to the state treasurer but was shared by the treasurer and comptroller from 1843-1865. The room nearer the rotunda was used by the treasurer until 1971. This suite is now occupied by the governor's staff and the rooms are not open for touring.
This suite was used by the secretary of state from 1840-1888 and served as the auditor's office from 1868-1958. It is now occupied by the governor's staff and the rooms are not open for touring.
This suite functioned as the office of the comptroller from 1840-1843, and the Supreme Court chambers from 1843-1888. The secretary of state then occupied this suite from 1888-1989. The lieutenant governor used this suite from 1990-2001. Now occupied by governor's staff, it is not open for touring.
House of Representatives Chamber
This room served the 120-member House of Commons from 1840-1868 and the House of Representatives from 1868-1961. The semicircular plan mirrors the design of a Grecian amphitheater. Local carpenters built the rostrums in the front of the chamber, and local cabinetmaker William Thompson made the desks for the House and Senate Chambers. At the chamber's south end are offices formerly used by the Speaker of the House and principal clerk of the House. Thomas Sully's portrait of George Washington (ca. 1818), which hangs above the Speaker's podium, is a copy of the Gilbert Stuart "Lansdowne" portrait. This painting was saved during the State House fire of 1831. The original 84-candle brass chandelier was lowered each day by a pulley to light the candles. The mid-nineteenth-century brass and copper chandelier that now hangs in the House is also lowered on that same mechanism to change the light bulbs. Records indicate that the original 1840 window shades were decorated with painted Grecian borders, so the reproduction window shades mimic decorative plaster designs in the room. The building originally was heated by 28 fireplaces, four of which are in this room. Carpet was installed in 1854 to make the chambers more comfortable. The blue curtains located behind the speakers' chairs in both chambers were added to block any drafts from the windows behind them. Both the carpets and the curtains are reproductions.
This room served the 50-member Senate until 1961, and resembles a Grecian temple in the Ionic style. The Senate has some features similar to those of the House chamber. The two rooms at the north end of the chamber were originally the offices of the Speaker and the principal clerk of the Senate. However, the Senate has two additional rooms at the south end of the chamber that served as committee rooms. The rostrums at the front are slightly smaller than those in the House and originally seated the Speaker of the Senate who is now known as the President of the Senate (i.e., lieutenant governor). There appear to be public galleries on all four sides of this chamber. In fact only three sides contain functional balcony seats. The entablature above the columns on the north side was added for symetry as the fireplace arrangement did not allow balcony access above this area. The window shades feature olive wreaths, a symbol of victory and honor. The lithographic print of the Canova statue of Washington hangs to the right of the rostrums. This 1840 print features the only known interior view of the 1794-1796 State House.
West Hall Committee Room
This room served as a joint committee room for the House and Senate. After the Civil War it briefly served as the "Third House (1868-1869)," the Capitol keeper's office (1893-1939), a snack room (1939-1961), and a post office. This room was restored to its original 1840 size and appearance between 1974 and 1976.
State Library Room
The State Library was located in this room from 1840 until 1888. The room was completed in the Gothic style in 1842, when the staircase, gallery, and shelves were added to hold the growing collection of books and papers. The collection began with more than 2,000 volumes and grew to nearly 40,000. It was open only to state officials until 1845, when policies were eased and the general public was admitted. By 1859 the State Library had outgrown its small, cramped room and was spilling its contents into other offices of the Capitol, including the building's closets. In 1888, the State Library moved to a larger building and is now housed in its third location since leaving the Capitol the Archives and History/State Library Building on Jones Street. This room's 1856-1857 appearance has been re-created based on information contained in legislative papers and other records in the State Archives.
State Geologist's Office
This room was occupied by the Supreme Court from 1840 to 1843, before the court relocated to the northeast suite on the first floor for convenience. Afterward, the State Geologist's Office with its "Cabinet of Minerals" display occupied the room from 1856 to 1865. Here the state geologist, Dr. Ebenezer Emmons, conducted a geological survey to determine the commercial and agricultural value of minerals and plants native to North Carolina. In glass cabinets, he displayed specimens from the Piedmont counties, including soil, seeds, rocks, and mineral samples. In 1858 a Gothic gallery was added to expand the collection, but it is likely that the upper shelves were actually used to store the overflow of books from the State Library. In April 1865 Union troops occupied Raleigh, and General Sherman's troops rifled the mineral collection. In 1866, the collection's remnants were donated to the University of North Carolina, and by 1868 the mineral cases were removed from the room. After the Civil War, the room housed the office of the superintendent of public instruction and was used for various legislative functions until 1961. The room's restoration to its 1858-1859 appearance is based on historical documentation and reflects its use by the geologist and legislative clerks, and as an additional reading room of the State Library.
Over the last century, numerous statues and monuments have been erected on the Square memorializing people and events in the history of North Carolina. The collection on Union Square consists of fourteen monuments, most of them bronze on stone bases. The following are brief descriptions of each: