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Features > Austin, TX (September 2008) > A Capitol Tour

On Tuesday, September 9th I was in Austin, Texas for the GE GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Straight Ally) Alliance conference and before the meetings started at noon, a group of us from the GE Healthcare delegation decided to head a few blocks north to take a tour of the nation's largest state capitol (of course) - the state captiol of Texas.

The Lone Star state went CRAZY with the stars...here one was on the parking garage across from the Austin Airport

The hotel was all about dead cows...at least in this corner. Perhaps it made the spirit of the cow a bit happier to have skin and hair nearby? Luckily no ghostly mooing woke me up at night.

Hey - it's another star, this time at the nearby Driskill 1886 Cafe & Bakery where we had breakfast before our tour (note they don't serve crepes here though!)

We walked conveniently to the capitol


I'm not sure if this is it, but the tour guide told us of the famous Come and Take It Cannon which was loaned to the colony of San Antonio by the Mexicans and after repelling the Mexican forces sent to retrieve it, they made a flag with a black star, a cannon, and that phrase (which has also more recently been used by gun-rights advocates).

Here's our tour guide standing alongside a statue of someone important, who I think was governor of two states (the only person to achieve such an honor)

The dome of the Texas State Capitol, designed by Elijah E. Myers who also designed the Michigan and Colorado state capitols

And of course...the lone star!

The portraits of previous governors are placed around the base of the dome on the 1st and 2nd floors (at least) and the newest ones appear at the bottom. The portrait in this photo is of the first woman governor, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson. Her husband, James Edward Ferguson, the governor from 1915 to 1917, was impeached, convicted, and removed from office during his second term. Under terms of the conviction, he was not allowed to hold state office again.
After her husband's impeachment and conviction, she ran as a Democrat for the office herself. During the campaign she said she would follow the advice of her husband and that Texas would get "two governors for the price of one." A common campaign slogan of the time was, "Me for Ma, and I Ain't Got a Durned Thing Against Pa." She was the second woman governor in the US, following Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming by two weeks who completed the term of her deceased husband.

A nice centerpiece below the dome

The House of Representatives were in session

The star was everywhere, even in this nice wooden chair around the perimeter of the Senate chamber

The Senate was not in session and the Legislature is a part-time legislature with only 140 days in it's regular session. They are unable to call themselves into session after that, but the governor can and has 3 times for example in the previous year but the legislature can only consider those topics requested in the governor's call.

We got a private tour, here's the GE Healthcare group

I didn't notice this at the time, but the light fixtures above the Senate chamber of course have a star, but also spell out TEXAS in lightbulbs...

Here the painting Dawn at the Alamo (1905) by Henry McArdle depicts the battle of the Alamo.

Here's a close-up of the painting, the large figure is William B. Travis, who died at age 26 and whose letter asking for reinforcements at the Alamo didn't succeed in that battle but brought attention to the independence of Texas. I'm not sure, but I think the depiction of Santa Anna's troops is a bit cariactured in this painting (eg the soldier coming behind Travis).
Only a handful of people from the Texian (yes...they're called Texians) side survived - one was Travis's slave, Joe, as a noncombatant, and Brigido Guerrero, who had deserted from the Mexican Army several months before, convinced Mexican soldiers that he had been taken prisoner by the Texians.

It's George W. Bush...as governor

Nice glass etching...

The house was much more entertaining since it was in session, but there wasn't much going on there and it was full of old people!

More nice etching of glass...


Here's a hint - in case you get lost and aren't sure where you are just look to the hinges of the door where you'll see "TEXAS CAPITOL" if you are in fact there

Nice stairway

Everything was quite decorated and detailed, even the doorknob to the house chamber here

Around 1991 there was a large expansion of the capitol with an underground multi-level structure for many of the offices and workers at the seat of power in the state

The Seal of Texas which includes the flags of those countries that occupied the territory in the recent past including the Kingdom of France (who would guess Texans would have France on their seal?), the United Mexican States, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the USA.

To do list - 1. Don't forget that Alamo thing!

This was the nicest star in the capitol and it was at the bottom of the underground structure at the far side

Of course the underground structure could have been a dreary place but the design was quite nice with skylights to let in light and allow people to see the dome/capitol. We also asked the tour guide a question earlier that she posed to an officer at this point in the tour - Can people bring consealed weapons into the capitol? He said, in classic Texas style "Absolutely." and explained as long as they have a permit that it is fine, of course if they see a weapon they'll talk to the person and figure out what to do, but some lawmakers even bring weapons to the capitol.

Stars were even on the benches!

A historical photo of the construction of the capitol

The Goddess of Liberty statue that sits on the dome of the capitol with yet another star in her hand. Her features also are a bit caricatured...and make her look a bit...ugly.

The dome

Yes...it's a shiny thing in the sky that guided people at sea for generations - a STAR!


A monument on the capitol grounds (although I don't know what it's for)

What a smartly dressed array of GE Healthcare employees!

But lookout - we're armed!

Even the grates along the border of the capitol deserve a star...

Upon arrival back in Milwaukee (before Ike hit thankfully!) I ran into Lydia and her fiancee Sam who was arriving from Germany

Another Sam and Lydia photo

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