Topeka
Topeka

Kansas Statehouse

Named one of the state’s “Most Iconic Buildings” by Architectural Design, the Kansas State Capitol serves as both a home to the state’s legislature and a monument to the defining history of Kansas. The land on which the capitol lies was donated by Topeka Founding Father and co-founder of the Topeka, Atchison, Santa Fe Railroad, Cyrus K. Holliday. After 37 years of construction, the Capitol was officially completed in 1903. The master architect was Edward Townsend Mix with the wings designed by John G. Haskell. Embodying an overall Classical design style, the foundation and outer structure of the Capitol is made entirely of Kansas Limestone. A 14 year period of renovations and refurbishments were completed in 2014, with one of the big changes being the restoration of its exterior masonry and copper dome. Once inside, you’ll marvel at the view of the dome above from the rotunda adorned with frescos by Jerome Fedeli. Be sure to take a moment to tour the second floor to view the stunning State Library and John Steuart Curry’s famous murals, including Tragic Prelude. Before you go, though, we insist you take a dome tour. It’s 296 steps to the top, but the view is like none other

THE HOT TAKE

The Capitol building is beautiful, with stunning architecture, intricate details and years of history. Here are nine things every visitor should know: • The Capitol design features 17 different types of marble. Much of the marble came from other countries.

  • It would take 2.3 million pure copper pennies to make up the Capitol dome! (Pure copper pennies haven’t been minted since 1857, before construction on the capitol even began.)
  • There is one remaining “office” sink in the Capitol. Historians are unsure why the one sink remains. In the late 1800s, it was common for government offices to have sinks and sometimes even baths, due to long and dusty travel conditions.
  • The Capitol is the tallest building in Topeka. It’s not a city ordinance, but a taller building has never been approved.
  • The Kansas Capitol is the second tallest, out of 38, traditional dome Capitols in the United States.
  • The Ad Astra statue was added to the dome after schoolchildren voted for it. Representing a Kaw warrior pointing his arrow at the North Star, the sculpture was crafted by Richard Bergen. It is named from the state’s official motto, “Ad astra per aspera,” which is Latin for “To the stars through difficulty.”
  • The Capitol will tarnish (and turn green again) in 30-40 years.
  • When the Capitol was finished in 1903, after 37 years of construction, there was no debt on the building.
  • The oldest book in the State Library, inside the Capitol, is from 1741 and written by Sir Francis Bacon.

After 13 years and a $332 million renovation, the Kansas State Capitol Building is complete and gleaming like the day it was built. Touching every part of the Capitol, from two stories below the underground cornerstones to the top of the 306-foot dome, the renovation restored the original architect's vision while increasing accessibility and safety for years to come. 

FREE TOURS, Monday through Saturday

These free tours last approximately 40 minutes. Each tour group may have up to 30 participants. Reservations are strongly encouraged, especially between January and May. Make a reservation online or by phone: 785.296.3966 or www.KSHS.org, or journey through the building using the self-guided tour brochure, available at the Capitol Visitor Center.

Capitol Rotunda

Experience the Dome Tour

The Dome Tour is breathtaking - literally - with 296 steps and no elevator, but it's worth the effort. The Kansas Statehouse is the only U.S. capitol building where the public can go to the top of the dome and walk along the outside balcony for a birds-eye-view of the city. Beginning on the fifth floor, the tour explores the area between the inner and outer domes - what is visible both inside and outside. Connecting the two domes are a series of stairs and landings that offer an unparalleled look at the elaborate architecture. 

Dome tours year round on weekdays: 9:30, 10:15, 11:15 a.m. and 12:15, 1:15, 2:15, 3:15 p.m. Saturday tours begin at 10:15 and follow the same schedule.

Family at capitol dome - Dome Tour | Topeka, KS

Traverse through Time Tour

A tour of the Statehouse is a journey into Kansas' past, brought to life through important artifacts, beautiful murals, sculptures and historic photographs. Even the limestone and marble tell a story of Kansas resources and ambitions. Get a glimpse of spectacular spaces including Representative Hall, the Senate Chamber, the State Library and the Old Supreme Court. Free historic guided tours are offered Monday through Friday, or visitors can explore the building with a self-guided tour brochure.

Building tours hourly Monday through Saturday, from January through May: 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m, and June through December: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

A LABOR OF LOVE

In the late 1800s, more than one million people streamed into Kansas seeking a new life on the frontier. As they arrived, what they saw was amazing. Rising from the Kansas prairie, a grand building loomed over the growing city and welcomed settlers. Along Topeka's dirt streets, the sound of chipping stone was a constant rhythm as construction on the Kansas Statehouse continued for 37 years. The building cost $3.2 million to build and included architectural elements of gleaming copper and 17 types of marble, crystal, granite and gold leaf paint. The Capitol was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. 

 Looking over the balcony at Kansas Capitol

CAPITOL QUESTIONS

Which entrance should I use?
Use the ground level entrance on the north side of the Capitol, facing 8th Avenue.

Where can I park?
Free parking spots are located in the garage beneath the building. Enter the garage from 8th Avenue, near Harrison Street. Metered parking is available on nearby streets - Harrison Street, 10th Avenue or Jackson Street. If you park on those streets, just walk to the north entrance facing 8th Avenue. Note that parking spaces may be limited when the Kansas Legislature is in session - January through early May.

When can I visit? 
The Statehouse is open to the public 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The Capitol is closed on Sundays and state holidays. Free guided tours are offered Monday through Friday, but self-guided tours are available anytime the building is open. 

Is photography allowed? 
Yes, and the statehouse is photogenic inside and out. If the legislature is in session, no photos may be taken in the chambers. Your tour guide will keep you informed.

Need more information?
Learn even more about the Capitol from the Kansas Historical Society or call the Capitol information desk at 785.296.2966.