Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (1869- 1924)The seat of state government in Nebraska is the State Capitol. Nebraska had two territorial capitol buildings in Omaha. Since achieving statehood, three capitols have been located in Lincoln. The current capital is considered one of the world's greatest architectural achievements. The building was designed by architect Bertram G. Goodhue as both a practical working environment for state government and an inspiring monument for Nebraskans.
Goodhue assembled a four-person team to decorate the building: Lee Lawrie, sculptor; Hildreth Meiere, tile and mosaic designer; Hartley B. Alexander, thematic consultant for inscription and symbolism; and Augustus V. Tack, mural artist. Built of Indiana limestone, the capitol's base is a cross within a square with four interior courtyards. The square base measures 437 feet on each side. From the base's center rises a 400-foot domed tower, crowned with a 19-foot bronze figure, designed by Lawrie, of "The Sower," which represents agriculture, Nebraska's chief industry. A thematic progression of ornamentation extends from the principal second-floor entrance on the north, around the building's exterior and through its interior. It starts with carved buffalo flanking the exterior grand staircase.
The building, furnishings and landscaping cost just less than the $10 million budget. The money was secured by a special capitol levy, and the building was paid for upon completion in 1932. The four-phase construction was completed in 10 years under the supervision of William Younkin of the architect's office. The building's construction was overseen by the Capitol Commission composed of the governor, the state engineer and three members appointed by the governor. The appointed members were W.E. Hardy of Lincoln, W.H. Thompson of Grand Island and Walter H. Head of Omaha.
Samuel R. McKelvie, Charles W. Bryan, Adam McMullen and Arthur J. Weaver were governors during construction and chairmen of the commission. The state engineers were George E. Johnson and Robert L. Cochran while Thomas R. Kimball of Omaha was the commission's professional advisor. Kimball wrote the terms of how the building's architect was to be chosen.
Nebraska's capitol has been honored by the U.S. National Park Service, the American Institute of Architects, the Building Stone Institute and other organizations.
But perhaps its greatest tribute is the respect demanded for the building's care and preservation by those it serves, the citizens of Nebraska.