Posted by: Kath Usitalo | January 26, 2012

A Capitol Salute to Michigan’s 175th

Celebrate Michigan statehood with a visit to the Capitol building in Lansing

Happy Dodransbicentennial, Michigan! Try saying that with a mouthful of birthday cake.

According to the Historical Society of Michigan dodransbicentennial is the word for a 175th anniversary, the milestone the state is celebrating today. It was on January 26, 1837 that President Andrew Jackson granted Michigan statehood, adding the 26th star to Old Glory. But the designation didn’t come easy, thanks to a struggle over a strip of land along the Ohio border.

Wear your party hat to the Historical Museum on Saturday

The Toledo War was resolved with the disputed ground going to Ohio and Michigan receiving the Upper Peninsula as a sort of consolation prize (scroll down for link to related post). Detroit served as Michigan’s capital from 1837 to 1847 when that designation went to Lansing.

You can celebrate the state’s 175th birthday at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, January 28. There will be music, activities, and cake for the first 100 visitors. Museum admission is charged.

While we’re saluting Michigan statehood, think about a visit to the State Capitol building.

If you haven’t walked the marble floored halls of the symbolic seat of state government since your grade school field trip, it’s time you make a trek to Lansing for a free, weekday tour.

Love the colors and detail of the rotunda

The cornerstone for the elegantly domed, brick and sandstone structure was laid in 1873; construction was completed in late 1878 and the official dedication took place on January 1, 1879.

Architect Elijah E. Myers had a budget of $1,200,000 and instructions not to use “superfluous ornamentation” in construction of the state’s third and permanent Capitol.

Obviously, the definition of “superfluous” was different in the 19th century because this building, with its 267-foot high dome, is rich with detail and decorative arts from carved wooden doors to ornamental mouldings, pillars, columns, etched glass, murals, marble floors and metal hardware, fixtures and accents.

The Senate Chamber

Highlights for me include:

  • the colors and ornamentation of the elegant rotunda
  • the lit-from-below glass block floor (go ahead, lie down and look up into the dome)
  • portraits of each of the former governors ringing the second and third floors of the rotunda
  • etched glass ceiling panels in the House and Senate Chambers
  • chandeliers featuring symbols from the state coat of arms
  • the Michigan pine woodwork meticulously painted to look like the more expensive walnut—supposedly among the finest examples in the U.S. of this artistic technique
    (See slideshow below)

Detail from a chandelier

The striking building underwent extensive restoration from 1988-1992 and was rededicated on November 19, 1992.

It is among the dozen state capitol buildings, along with the U.S. Capitol, that are designated as National Historic Landmarks.

Visitors may look around the building on their own, but the free, hour-long guided tours are informative and are offered from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Groups of 10 or more must schedule tours in advance. Click for details.

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Related Posts:

Happy Birthday, Michigan-January 2010

Toledo vs. The U.P.-April 2009

Visitor Info Clicks:


Pure Michigan 



  1. Thanks Kath. This is a great post about our beautiful Capitol Building and wasn’t it so fun to see both on Twitter and Facebook the wonderful birthday wishes for our state yesterday. Makes me proud to be a Michigander/Michiganian/Michiganite.

    • Cheers!

  2. […] A Capitol Salute to Michigan’s 175th (Great Lakes Gazette) […]

  3. […] A Capitol Salute to Michigan’s 175th […]

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