State Capitol, St. Paul, Minnesota

The Minnesota State Capitol building is one of the purest expressions of the Beaux-Arts style in America. Designed by Minnesota native Cass Gilbert, who also designed St. Louis’s own Art Museum and Central Library, the State Capitol synthesizes the Italian Renaissance with ancient Roman models. By the way, the reason it’s spelled with an “O” is because of the famous hill in Rome of the same name.

The dome is a copy of Michelangelo’s design for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome; what is interesting is that unlike the original in Italy, the plinths above the paired columns of the drum have sculptures as originally intended. The ones in Rome are still empty, over 400 years after the completion of the dome of St. Peter’s.

I recently wrote an article in St. Louis Magazine about the Beaux-Arts style in St. Louis, and Cass Gilbert’s contribution to this influential and optimistic period in American architecture.

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