Ohio Statehouse

Ohio Statehouse externior

No Ohio blog, we recently decided, would be complete without a visit to the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. So Natalie and I set out to spend a day in our capitol city, complete with a stop to see the lights at the Columbus Commons.

Ohio Statehouse Tour

If you’re interested in learning more about our state government, I highly recommend taking the tour. Tours are free and offered every day except state holidays. For a family or small group, there’s no need to schedule in advance and tours leave from the map room several times during the day.

Basement of the Ohio Statehouse
Natalie stops under one of the large arches in the basement of the Ohio Statehouse. Originally built by prisoners, the arches gave the building a strong foundation.

The tours last for about an hour and ours was both entertaining and informative. Parking is available underneath the Statehouse for about $5 depending on the length of your visit. Be sure to visit the Statehouse webpage before your visit for additional details.

Floor of the Map Room in the basement of the Ohio Statehouse.
The floor of the Map Room features a large map of the state of Ohio with all of the counties outlined.

The Map Room and Basement

We started in the Map Room in the building’s basement, just off of the Third Street entrance. Since we were early for our tour, we were able to look around a bit. We stopped into the Statehouse Museum Shop first. They sell a unique collection of Ohio themed products, books, food items and more. If you’re looking for a gift for either the Democrat or Republican on your list, you can find either donkey or elephant themed items as well.

The Museum Shop in the basement of the Ohio Statehouse sells Ohio themed merchandise.
The Museum Shop was great and the staff was friendly. We had to pick up a few gifts to check off our Christmas lists!

Just off of the Map Room is the Statehouse Museum Education Center. Here you’ll find a large, illuminated version of our state seal and the constitution for our state. There are interactive exhibits that encourage visitors to learn about the inner workings and history of our state government.

Exhibits in the basement of the Ohio Statehouse feature prominent Ohioans and a museum devoted to its history.
A statue of John Glenn stands just outside of the Museum Shop and the Great Seal graces the museum.

Tours depart from the Map Room. In the center of the room, which is more of a large hallway, is a giant inlay of the state with each of the 88 counties outlined. Here we met our tour guide and begun our tour.

Ohio Statehouse on Capitol Square

The Statehouse sits on Capitol Square, ten acres of land originally donated by four Franklinton business leaders in an effort to draw the center of our government to Columbus. Columbus would actually be our fourth state capitol. The first capitol was Chillicothe, about an hour south of Columbus on the Scioto River. Next it moved to Zanesville and then back again to Chillicothe, before finally settling in Columbus.

The George Washington Williams Room in the Ohio Statehouse.
The George Washington Williams Room honors Ohio’s first African-American legislator.

Construction of the Statehouse formally began on July 4, 1939. It took 22 years of start and stop work before the building was finally completed. The design of the building is in the Greek Revival style and the building consists primarily of locally quarried limestone. Our tour guide pointed out fossils that were evident within the walls and steps.

The dome in the Rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse.
Looking up from the center of the Rotunda you can see the domed ceiling and skylight.

The Rotunda and Lincoln

We passed through the Rotunda, which is directly below the Cupola. The Cupola is the large structure on top the Statehouse. It looks like a large bass drum turned on its side. The domed ceiling of the Rotunda, which includes a beautiful stained glass, is hidden from street view by the Cupola.

Abraham Lincoln visited our statehouse three times. The first time was during his campaign for the Republican nomination for President and the crowd was only 50 people strong. The third and final time, he lay in repose in the center of the Rotunda following his assassination. This time more than 50,000 people were present and filed past the President’s coffin.

Two different pictures of the Rotunda at the Ohio Statehouse.
On the left Natalie poses next to one of the trees in the Rotunda. On the right a view of the Rotunda from below.

Our tour took us through many areas in the Statehouse. Our guide discussed renovations in the early 1990s and their work to return the building as closely as possible to original. For instance, after much scraping, they determined the walls were originally a lovely pinkish-salmon color. Originally, this was considered a shade of red and was regarded as a powerful color.

Inside the Senate Chambers of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
From the gallery of the Senate Chambers inside the Ohio Statehouse.

Beyond the Statehouse

We exited the Statehouse and proceeded through the Atrium and into the Senate Building. She told us that this is where many of our representatives have their offices. The entry into the building is through the Grand Stair Hall.

The Grand Stair Hall in the Senate Building on Capitol Square at the Ohio Statehouse.
The Grand Stair Hall resembles the Paris Opera House.

The Grand Stair Hall is truly an impressive space created of beautiful white marble in the French Beuax Artes style. The ceiling includes a skylight and mural. The mural is in four parts representing art, justice, manufacturing and agriculture. These four things were considered vital to our state’s success.

The ceiling of the Grand Stair Hall on Capitol Square in Columbus, Ohio.
The ceiling of the Grand Stair Hall.

Learning about Ohio

I’ve just touched on a few aspects of our Statehouse tour. It was an hour packed full of information and was very entertaining. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in our state or of history in general.

A view inside the museum in the Ohio Statehouse.
Inside the museum in the basement of the Ohio Statehouse.

If you are unable to visit and would like more information, the Statehouse website is very informative. In addition to information about the building history, you’ll find a wealth of information on other subjects. You can find your county flag, read about and see photos of each of Ohio’s governors, learn about President’s from our state and other great Ohioans.

We’re glad you spent time FindingOhio with us and we hope you make time for a tour of the Statehouse. As always, we thank you for sharing our content to your social media.