Exterior Dome and Cupola Audio Transcript

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Situated on a hill in Tallahassee a little more than 200 feet above sea level, the Historic Capitol has always enjoyed a breathtaking view of the city and countryside. Soon after the building was completed in 1845, state workers and local residents found out that the roof offered a great view of the surrounding area. In 1891, a small cupola just large enough for one or two persons was added to the roof as a viewing area.

In the 1902 additions, Architect Frank Milburn replaced the tiny cupola with a massive dome. In order to support the weight of the new dome, Milburn made it out of wood with a copper sheet metal covering, filled the four interior fireplaces with cement and then placed the dome on top of them. Milburn intended that the copper portion of the dome slowly turn green over the years. It became a local tradition to climb to the cupola at the top of the Historic Capitol for the view. In fact, it was such an important part of Tallahassee that local citizens asked for, and received, an observation deck on the top of the new Capitol. One of the first people to climb to the cupola in the Historic Capitol was Major Robert Gamble of Tallahassee. He was nearly 90 years old, and a veteran of the Second Seminole and Civil Wars when he made the long trip to the top of the new dome in May of 1902. The long climb started with a steep flight of stairs, then two more narrow flights of stairs, a small opening to squeeze through, up a ladder, followed by an another small opening, some timbers to climb over and finally two more ladders. Major Gamble would have been rewarded with a magnificent view of Tallahassee and the countryside. If you would like a comparative experience you can climb the twenty-two stories to the top of the new Capitol.