Saturday, June 7, 2014

State Capitol


in Downtown Raleigh

Proving once again that a hike is where you find it, the FBWG woke up early in Raleigh and finding the gym at the hotel closed decided to take an early morning hike to the State Capitol.  Leaving the hotel I had two choices....south to the Raleigh Auditorium or north the the State Capitol.....I chose north.  At 4:30 in the morning, the Fayetteville Mall is deserted....accompanied only by the chirps of waking birds I set out to visit our State Capitol in the early dawn!

 On the south lawn of the Capitol is a statue of the Father of our Country, George Washington....the first of many statues I visited ....all photographed in shadows in front of the back drop of a brightly lit Capitol Building.  The State Capitol was opened in 1840 and was the seat of government from that time until 1962. It is considered one of the best preserved examples of Greek Revival architecture.  Housed in the Capitol is the formal office of the Governor but the rest of the building serves as a museum restored to its 19th Century appearance.

The west side of the Capitol presents a columned portico....the silent sentinel photographed above is dedicated to Ensign Worth Bagley.... a North Carolina naval officer who was the first North Carolinian to die in the Spanish American War.

Along the sidewalk on the southwest lawn is a memorial to the Daughters of the Confederacy and a small granite rock commemorating the "Wildcat Division" in World War One.

 The western entrance to the Capitol is the eastern terminus of Hillsborough Street where stands a tall obelisk dedicated to Our Confederate Dead. Cannons on both sides of the monument guard against attack from the west.....too bad, 'cause when General Sherman marched on Raleigh he came from the east!  ... maybe that is why we lost.....ya think?  

But the Spanish naval gun captured in 1898 next to the Bagley statue is however pointed eastward...trouble is it was invented 40 years too late to help the Johnny Reb.

Ashe County is named after Samuel Ashe, a former Governor .... But this Samuel A'Court Ashe is the first editor of the News and Observer. Why you would honor him with a monument on the northwestern lawn of the Capitol, I haven't a clue.

Not far from the Ashe monument I got a really nice contrasting view of new versus old through the columns of the western portico of the State Capitol.
Labor Dept

The northern lawn of the Capitol is dominated by a large obelisk memorial to North Carolina veterans of both World Wars and Korea...It is from the north side of the capitol the Fayetteville Mall continues to the General Assembly Building....but before I ventured in that direction I  first I had to snap a couple of pics of the Department of Labor and the Department of Agriculture.
Fredrick Olds-founder of the museum

Nathan Day- African American furniture maker
The mall serves as the entrance to the Museum of History and on the steps are some interesting  statues....Fredrick Olds, Thomas Day and a Saura Indian woman.....
The terminus of the mall is the main entrance to the General Assembly Building which was constructed in 1962.  The architectural design is a curious change from the traditional and the internal layout is so confusing it is called the "Puzzle Palace". However, on this early morn, I got the first glimpse of the light of dawn against which the building is silhouetted. 

Reversing my path I again returned to the old Capitol grounds and on the northeastern lawn found the the statue of Duncan McIver the first president of Women's College (UNCG) 

and Vietnam War Memorial over which I photographed a nice view of the steeple of the Christ Church against the morning sky.

The eastern side of the State Capitol features the impressive statue of our three Presidents. At least two of the people honored were actually born in North Carolina!

Andrew Jackson astride a horse is impressive until you realize he was actually born in South Carolina. ( )
Interesting that all three of these men made their home in Tennessee.  James K. Polk, perhaps the most successful president in history was born in Mecklenburg County, and Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh....more on that later.
On the southeastern lawn there are statues of two governors facing each other.  One is of Zebulon Vance, the other of Charles Aycock.

Old Zeb is an American iconic figure.  He was a born in rural Buncombe County....graduated from UNC at Chapel Hill...was elected to Congress as a supporter of the union but when Lincoln demanded troops from North Carolina to put down the rebellion in South Carolina, Old Zeb resigned from Congress and formed the 26th North Carolina Regiment to fight the Yanks.  Elected Governor at age 32, he shepherded the state through the war of North Aggression and subsequently became the elder statesman of the State serving as a United States Senator.
Charles Brantley Aycock was Governor at the beginning of the 20th Century is remembered as the Father of Education, but in truth the man was a virulent racist and should be vilified as the Father of Jim Crow. A third of the money for the cost of the statue came from school children. It is an embarrassment to the state that we honor such a man on our Capitol lawn and Statuary Hall in the US Capitol.
I would like this statue removed and replaced by one honoring the Rev. Billy Graham...a real North Carolina hero.

Eastern Portico State Capitol

Near the Capitol I paused to take a photo of the Supreme Court Building....a building recently made famous for a scene of the mini series "Homeland" having been shot there.

Leaving the Capitol and walking east on the Fayetteville Mall I glimpsed a granite monument beside the Newbridge Bank Building nearly covered by grass.  Not being able to see it in the shadows, I took a flash photograph and when I viewed the photo I learned something.  I was but 125 feet from the birthplace of President Andrew Johnson. Across the street is a Hardware Building, built in 1913, now converted to apartments.
Sir Walter Raleigh

Continuing my hike, I decided to visit two other venues.  The Raleigh Civic Center is behind my hotel that features a large statue with no name inscribed....about which some time ago when my wife first saw the statue inquired....
"What is a statue of Ponce De Leon doing in downtown Raleigh?"  Well duh!

I ended by walk at the Raleigh Auditorium which is a wonderfully remodeled venue for the performing arts.

For an early morning hike which I never planned it was a real one was out....I was distracted only by the chirps of birds.... I explored every statue on Capitol lawn and probably hiked 2.5 miles....If you find yourself in a hotel in downtown Raleigh and you wake up at O'Dark may enjoy this morning walk.   

                          "First at Bethel"
Henry Lawson Wyatt was a nineteen year old from Tarboro, a member of the Edgecombe Guards....missed him on my Capitol Walk but his statue is so compelling I had to add him to end the blog... killed at Bethel on June 10, 1861, he was said to be the first Confederate soldier killed in the War Between the States. He was not, but he was the first of nearly 40,000 North Carolinians who lost their lives on both sides of the senseless war.