On our way from Montana to Texas for the winter we passed through Cheyenne, Wyoming, and spent a few days exploring the area. Discovering the Wyoming Capitol Building was on our list of things to do while in town.
The Wyoming Capitol Building is an impressive example of neoclassical architecture and a must-see destination for anyone visiting Cheyenne. Here’s a guide to everything you need to know before you visit.
Built in 1888, two years before Wyoming became the 44th state, the Wyoming State Capitol building sits at one end of 24th Street in Cheyenne and is the centerpiece of the Capitol Square.
This post contains affiliate links. As a participant in Amazon Associates and various affiliate programs, we are compensated when qualifying purchases are made through our referral links at no additional cost to you. Full Disclosure
The east wing of the first floor is home to the typical governor’s portrait gallery. With the adopted nickname of the Equality State, Wyoming is proud of its claim as the first known government to grant women’s suffrage. In 1869, when women were given the right to vote in Wyoming Territory, there was speculation that the measure was an attempt to attract more women to the territory.
In 1925, Wyoming voters elected Nellie Tayloe Ross the first woman governor of a U.S. state, putting to rest the conjecture that women’s suffrage had been just a marketing ploy. Wyoming quickly garnered national attention when the first territorial assembly granted all women above the age of 21 the right to vote. This made Wyoming the first territory in the United States where women were granted the voting franchise.
The legislative chambers are on opposite wings of the second floor. These wings were added to the statehouse in 1917.
Neoclassical Architecture at Its Finest
The Capitol Building’s neoclassical design is a tribute to the state’s rich history and culture, as well as a testament to its commitment to building a functional and impressive government center. The building’s grand columns, intricate details, and imposing dome all showcase the neoclassical style popular during the early 20th century.
The Impressive Dome
One of the most striking features of the Wyoming Capitol Building is its impressive dome. This key architectural feature stands out above the skyline at 146 feet tall, representing Wyoming’s values.
The Dome of the capitol is copper and tarnished so badly in 1900 that they began using gold leaf on the exterior of the dome. The 24-carat gold leaf dome is visible from all around the city. It has been re-gilded five times. Of the fifty state capitol buildings in the United States, only ten have gold leaf-covered domes. The gold leaf covering the 146′ high copper dome is so delicate, it disintegrates when touched by human hands.
The dome’s interior is equally impressive, featuring a beautiful stained glass ceiling that represents the state’s mineral and agricultural industries.
Thanks to the restoration work that was completed in 2019, the dome’s life expectancy went from a mere 15 years to 90 years.
The interior, three-level staircase in the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne is charming. This stairwell features warm cherry woodwork, railings, and balusters framing delightful checkerboard marble floors.
There is a symbolic upside-down spindle in the wooden staircase leading to the Senate Chamber on the second floor, which was made by the Amish who believe that no person—or law—is perfect, only God is perfect. During the era when the building was constructed, this was apparently a common practice.
Be aware that most of the railings are lower than current building codes making it easier to potentially fall over.
Artwork and Sculptures
Inside the Wyoming Capitol Building, visitors will find an impressive collection of artwork, including murals, paintings, and sculptures. The building is also home to important offices and chambers of the state government, including the Governor’s office, the Wyoming House of Representatives, and the Wyoming Senate.
Wyoming Capitol Building Tours
A guided tour of the Wyoming Capitol Building is available, but since we arrived late in the day we decided to get a bit of information from the volunteer at the front desk and do a self-guided tour, wandering around the building as we pleased. We got to the Capitol Building at about 4:00 on a Friday afternoon so there wasn’t a lot going on. Spending about an hour and a half wandering the vacant halls and checking out all the floors and sites within the building. It truly is a beautiful building with a great history.
The guided tour provides visitors with a wealth of information about the history and significance of the building. Tour guides are knowledgeable and passionate about the building’s design and history, and offer interesting and informative commentary throughout the tour.
Click here for a self-guided tour brochure
Visiting the Capitol Building
The Wyoming Capitol Building is open to visitors every day of the week except for major holidays. Admission is free, making it a great destination for budget-conscious travelers. The building is located in the heart of Cheyenne, Wyoming, which is the state capital and a charming city with a rich history, interesting architecture, and culture.
200 W 24th St, Cheyenne, WY 82002
Parking is available on the street surrounding the Capitol. Be aware of timed parking limits in some areas. ADA parking is available in front of the Capitol building and on the north side of the Herschler Building. The public may also use the state parking lot located at the corner of 25th Street and Pioneer Ave, which also has ADA parking available. Visitors can enter the building from the south off 24th Street.
Monday – Friday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Since this is the people’s house entry is Free
Originally built in 1886, the Wyoming Capitol Capitol has recently undergone an extensive three-year renovation project. It reopened to the public on July 10, 2019. Many improvements were made during this restoration. Some of the improvements included: the addition of stairs, elevators, and restrooms; the restoration of decorative paintings and moldings; and the improvement of the electrical and HVAC systems.
During the restoration phase, there were several discoveries of paintings, decorated architectural elements, and woodwork that were all carefully restored. The project’s attention to detail sets it apart from many other renovation and restoration efforts. Many small details were restored and recreated by hand.
One of our favorite places in the building was exploring the six Vaults on the first floor of the Capitol. They are fascinating pieces of the building’s history. These vaults were used throughout the years to store valuable documents and other items, including the state constitution and the Great Seal of Wyoming. Now that everything is digital they are display pieces.
Murals that had previously been painted over in coats of brown paint and forgotten about were rediscovered on the six vault doors. After being restored to their original state, the murals became a highlight of the project as they were not previously documented and had not been seen by the public for decades.
In addition to their historical significance, the vaults are also interesting from a design perspective. These vaults were found to have been made by Mosler Safe and Lock Company, which was a well-distinguished safe company at the time. The safes feature intricate locking mechanisms and heavy steel construction that were designed to protect their contents from theft or damage.
Visitors to the Capitol Building can see the six vaults on a guided tour or self-guided tour of the building’s first floor. It’s a unique opportunity to get an up-close of the vaults and learn more about the important role that the Capitol Building has played in Wyoming’s history.
- The Capitol Building is one of the few state capitol buildings in the United States that does not have a rotunda. Instead, it has a large central atrium that is open to the public.
- The building’s central atrium features a stunning stained glass skylight that was installed in the early 1900s. The skylight was designed by the famed artist John La Farge and features intricate patterns and colors that create a beautiful effect when the sunlight shines through.
- The Capitol Building was built between 1886 and 1890, but it was destroyed by a fire in 1895. The current building was constructed between 1897 and 1917.
- The statue on top of the Capitol Building’s dome is not the original. The original statue was damaged in a windstorm in 1929, and a replacement was installed in 1930.
- The Capitol Building’s interior is decorated with murals and paintings that depict scenes from Wyoming’s history, including the state’s early settlements and its mining and agricultural industries.
- It was a lot cheaper to build than it was to renovate. The Capitol was originally built for $150,000, the modern-day equivalent of $4 million. In 1890, the Territorial Legislature authorized another $215,000 for the construction of the east and west wings, the equivalent of $6 million in today’s money. The cost to renovate the Capitol building in 2017 was $116 million, along with an additional $184 million for improvements in and around Capitol Square.
Other Things to See and Do
If you’re looking for a fun adventure for the whole family finding all the Big Boots around Cheyenne is a great way to spend a day. You will learn the lay of the land, see some interesting sites and share some time with your loved ones.
The Wyoming Capitol Building is an architectural gem that is well worth a visit when in Cheyenne. We really enjoyed taking some time to explore the Capitol and learn more about the history of Wyoming, Cheyenne, and the building itself. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or simply someone who appreciates impressive architecture, a visit to the Wyoming Capitol Building is sure to be a memorable experience.
Have you been to the Wyoming Capitol? What were your thoughts?
What interesting places can you recommend? We’re always looking for neat out-of-the-way experiences to add to our list of places to visit. Thank you for reading our article. If you have any comments or questions we’d love to hear from you below.
We do all our trip planning with RV Life Trip Wizard. RV Trip Planning Made Simple! RV Life Trip Wizard is by far the best RV route planner we’ve found. Get your 7 day Free Trial