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State Historical Memorial and Arts Building

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1898, 1904–1905, Smith and Gutterson. Northwest corner of E. 12th St. and E. Grand Ave.

As with many other late nineteenth-century Beaux-Arts designs, the architects of this building seem to have approached the classical ideal with the same abandonment entailed in their interpretation of the Queen Anne or Colonial Revival designs of the time. The visitor to the building is greeted by a two-story composition of a temple in antis, with a pair of wide pilasters flanked by two Roman Ionic columns. Above, the entablature and cornice are “correct,” but from this point on, things become confused (and delightfully so). Above the cornice is a kind of attic, and on top of this a pediment. Farther back one can just barely see the central drum and dome. Within, one will discover a group of mural paintings that once decorated the ceiling of the Supreme Court Room within the Iowa State Capitol. These panels and medallions were designed by August Knorr of Des Moines and were executed in Germany by Fritz Melzer. They were installed in the Court Room in 1886, but were removed after a fire in the room in 1904.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim


What's Nearby


David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "State Historical Memorial and Arts Building", [Des Moines, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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