Under the Dome

A Look Inside the State Capitol

In the middle of the Mitten, there is a magnificent place that is one of 50 in the nation and houses the legislative branch of the state of Michigan as well as ceremonial offices for executive branch positions.

Michigan’s Capitol was the first of three designed by architect Elijah E. Myers in the 1870s and 1880s. This established Myers as the premiere capitol-builder of the post-Civil War period, securing his career as one of the nation’s best architects of that genre. Dedicated to the citizens of Michigan in 1879, the construction took six years and contains over 9 acres of hand-painted surfaces.

The Capitol building is not only a magnificent monument to the state of Michigan’s government but has been referred to as an artistic wonder. On the ground floor, which has the current entrance to the building, one of the first things you notice is the opaque glass ceiling. There is something grand everywhere you look — from paintings, chandeliers and colorful rooms to checkered patterns on the floor, beautifully ornate doorframes and even hidden artful elements that you’ll miss the first time through. You could literally have a scavenger hunt.

Designs embellishing walls include papyrus, lotus, honeysuckle, acanthus leaves, amphibian, daisy, laurel, holly, palm, hibiscus, poinsettias, oak leaves, dolphins and more. There are designs that look like fabric, mosaics, leather, shields, seashells, rosettes, cornucopias, ribbons, banners and festoons. You can even look for the mystical animal called the winged griffin.

The Capitol building is a sight to behold, and it begs for you to see it more than once so that you can slowly take in all the intricacies of the architecture.


Reasons to Visit

  • In the ceiling of the Senate chamber, there are 90 etched-glass panels featuring the coats of arms of all 50 states.
  • Elijah Myers also designed Central United Methodist Church in downtown Lansing, as well as the original Lansing High School, now part of Lansing Community College.
  • Guided tours may be suspended because of COVID-19 restrictions.


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