Things You May Not Know About the Alabama State Capitol Grounds
Alabama became a State in 1819 and the first permanent capitol was at Cahawba (near Selma) but as the area was prone to flooding the capitol was moved to Tuscaloosa in 1826. Montgomery became the capital in 1846 and the present Capitol building was completed in 1851 after the first building burned two years earlier.
As Alvin Benn, writer for the Montgomery Advertiser said in an article titled “Capitol grounds a dazzling outdoor museum” June 9, 2013, “Alabama’s Capitol is a marvelous museum inside and out”.
Benn mentioned the brass star at the top of the front steps where Jefferson Davis took the oath as the Provisional President of the Confederacy, as well as the orange roses planted in the rose garden in honor of Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King.
Several statues are on the Capitol grounds including one to James Marion Sims and one honoring John Allen Wyeth. “Who are they” one might ask? Wyeth founded a medical school in New York and Sims was known as the Father of Modern Gynecology. There is also a very impressive statue of President Jefferson Davis.
The most impressive structure on the Capitol grounds is the Confederate Monument which took 12 years to build and was completed in 1898. Jefferson Davis came to dedicate the cornerstone in 1886 three years before he died.
There is also a Liberty Bell replica which was put there in 1976 in honor of the bicentennial of our nation, and an Avenue of Flags which includes the flags of all 50 states as well as a stone or rock from each state. The flags are on the South side, facing the First White House of the Confederacy, so if you are visiting the Alabama State Capitol, be sure and stop in at the First White House! You will be warmly greeted.
As a personal aside,the Robert Henry Tile Company installed the beautiful marble steps in front of the Capitol. My father, Robert F. Henry, Sr., owned the business at the time, and Henry Tile Company is now owned and run by my brother, Robert Henry, Jr. and his two sons and daughter, my nephews and niece.