The Inside of the State Capitol in Olympia Is Millennial Pink



The state capitol is beautiful. If you've never been to Olympia, you have to go and see it. I spent a lot of time inside that building during Occupy Olympia, to the annoyance of our elected officials. After a while, it started to feel like home.


Just be careful to not slip on all that lovely marble.


Did a Kardashian tweet "vaporwave" this week, or something? Why is the internet suddenly referencing a ten-year-old not-quite-art not-quite-movement?


I always get a kick out of Capitol buildings, as they’re always so front parlor and hard-boiled. Iowa’s is ridiculously Victorian, Nebraska is an Art Deco phallic symbol. Washington State’s is lovely, but surprisingly small.


The building was only finished in 1985. The Legislative Building is often referred to as the Capitol Building. It was constructed in the 1920s but it was not finished; none of the interior design and color, including the gilt work, seen in the picture existed before 1985.

The Legislative Building was designed to remind one of Rome in the classical period. The self-supporting masonry dome is one of the larger domes of its type. The dome is not attached to the drum but sits on top of the drum (and in the last major earthquake the dome shifted a few inches and has since been re-centered).

The architect who oversaw the decoration chose the colors based on research into monumental buildings completed elsewhere in America in the 1920 as well as notes from the original designers and contractors. The pigments were recreated using the techniques and material of the time (but without any lead). If memory serves, the interior design of the dome is trompe l'oeil. The columns in the drum are not marble; they were finished to give the appearance seen in the picture.

It is nearly impossible to convey how drab the building was before the decoration 35 years ago. My favorite part of the decoration are the hundreds of rosettes, a design common to classical Rome but that was found even in Babylon. I think they are the perfect design and color to fill what would otherwise be large blank spaces.

I worked for Senator H.A. Barney Goltz who chaired the committee that oversaw the completion of the building. When Goltz was not in Olympia fulfilling his duties as a Senator, he was in charge of facilities for Western Washington University where he oversaw the design and construction of several award-winning buildings from 1955 through 1986. Dee Hooper and J.P. Jones III were the legislative staff who brought the project in on time and under budget. I regret I cannot remember the name of the architectural firm that did such superb work.


@5 wow, thank you for that insightful comment--i leaned a lot! i'm kind of blown away by the building, especially the colors.


ack "learned" sorry!


Jasmyne Keimig - You are welcome. thank you for the picture of the dome that provided your readers with an excellent view of a wonderful space.

You are likely a few years older than my daughter. She just shared her undergraduate thesis with me: "How the Anthropomorphic State is Gendered by Monuments and Memorials." As a result, my view of your picture today was more informed than was my view 35 years ago and in between now and then. Look at those gilded eagles: Nothing says masculine like an eagle.

Next time you are in Olympia on the Capitol Campus, take a look at "Winged Victory," the state's official Great War monument (WWI). Pretty clear who fights for the country (men) and who tends to the men (one guess). Or look up "The Labors of Hercules" that adorned the House chambers 35 years ago but are now in storage because the art was true to the myth and too good, but perhaps a poor choice of subject.

I suspect I have about four decades on you. Please continue to read books; learn things; and do great work at The Stranger and beyond.


Just adding thanks for your comments @5 @8!