At over 200 feet, Idaho’s State Capitol Building can proudly be seen towering over the skyline of Boise. For more than a century, the Capitol Building, which serves as the seat of the state government, has become the foremost symbol of Idaho and American democracy. 

Nevertheless, there’s more to the Capitol Building than just being the government seat. This building, which has been standing since the 1900s, is a piece of history. Still, even while the building has been restored, updated, and modernized throughout the years to keep up with the ever-changing needs of the government, its history and character have been preserved. Thus, it serves as a most fitting monument of Idaho. 

People who are interested in Boise Idaho real estate should endeavor to learn a bit of Boise’s history as seen through the Capitol Building. 

Not the Original Capitol

Despite the hype, the Idaho State Capitol Building you see today is not the original Capitol. That’s because Boise isn’t the original capital of Idaho. 

At the time when Idaho was a flourishing center of business, trade, and mining, the known state capital was Lewiston. Eventually, though, the population shifted and turned their attention to Boise during the time that gold was discovered in the Boise Basin. When the majority of the population moved to Boise, the capital followed the people. Construction commenced for the Capitol Building in 1885. However, by 1905, the state legislation outgrew the building. As a result, construction for a new Capitol Building, the current one, was initiated that same year,  in 1905. 

The construction of the current Capitol underwent two phases, with the first phase focusing on the construction of the building’s central portion, the one with the dome, as well as abbreviated east and west wings. The second phase involved expanding both east and west wings. 

Improvement and Restoration of the Capitol

The Capitol has been remodeled twice ever since its construction in 1905 – first time was during the 1950s, and then during the 1970s. Remodeling was necessary to keep up with the demands of a steadily growing government, as well as the need to keep an aging building in tiptop shape. Sadly, the remodeling projects took the Capitol away from its original glory.

It’s a good thing that the government realized the historic significance of the Idaho State Capitol Building. Hence, in 2005, a restoration process was started. The restoration involved repairing the building, preserving what they could, updating the mechanical and electrical systems, and expanding the building to accommodate the needs of the government.

The Capitol of Light – Literally and Symbolically

History books would show that the Idaho State Capitol Building is otherwise known as “The Capitol of Light”. The term was coined in deference to the vision and design of its architect, John E. Tourtellotte. Tourtellotte held light in high esteem, and this was evident when he designed the Capitol Building. Throughout the Capitol, you’ll see light used as decoration and the building itself was created to utilize natural light as much as possible. 

This homage to light is apparent as soon as you set foot on the main area, which is underneath the dome. Light shines and illuminates the dome and the surrounding marble columns through a skylight. On the underside of the dome, you’ll see 43 stars that symbolize Idaho’s admission as the 43rd state of America. The entire building is lit up with light shafts that reflect off the marble, creating a bright and stunning view. Both the east and west wings are mostly illuminated by natural light that seeps through the skylights; thus, there’s little need for artificial lighting. Literally speaking, the building is, indeed, “The Capitol of Light”.

Nevertheless, as far as Tourtellotte’s design goes, there is more to light than meets the eye. More than the literal connotation of it, Tourtellotte’s use of light in the Capitol Building was metaphorical. For Tourtellote, light was a representation of the Idaho government’s enlightened state. It also symbolized the necessary moral state for a government to function properly. Tourtellotte believed that light was essential to achieve four symbolic things – to illuminate the seat of the government, to keep the government in the correct state of mind, to follow their morals, and to keep them enlightened.

When the Capitol Building was restored in 2005, Tourtellote’s principles were taken into consideration. Hence, the current building has refurbished and new skylights (especially in the expanded areas) and light shafts. Marble was also chosen as prime material for the columns, as it reflects light. Even the façade of the building reflects light and illuminates the building.

Idaho’s Light Shines Through

The lifestyle of Idaho is clearly seen through the Idaho State Capitol Building. It basks in the glow of natural light, sitting amidst gardens and nature. Overall, Idaho never forgets to pay homage to nature and history while incorporating its ideals into a modern urban setting. People looking for homes for sale in Boise Idaho can clearly see this influence everywhere. Truly, elements of nature and deference to Idaho’s history are apparent from building design to recreational activities that locals enjoy.