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In Their Own Words

January 13, 1869

Opening of State Capitol in Kimball Opera House

The day after the public opening of Georgia’s new state capitol in the building originally intended as the Kimball Opera House, the Atlanta Constitution reported on the gala event:

“Last evening presented a scene long to be remembered by our citizens ho had the pleasure of being present at the opening of the ‘so-called’ Opera House, which, from dome to basement, was brilliantly illuminated with gas. The exterior of the edifice presented a perfect blaze of light that arrested the attention of every passerby … .

“Entering the House of Representatives, the ear was delighted with the sweetest music produced by the military band of this post; who, we venture to assert have no superior in the Army of the United States. Immediately above their head was the full portrait of that brave old military chieftan and perfect gentleman, ‘Old Hickory,’ a man whose name will never, never die.

“The house is brilliantly lighted by a circular of gas jets some thirty feet from the floor, and at least fifteen feet in its diameter. All around these jets was placed a fluted glass mirror, that threw the bright rays of light completely over the room, rendering all side lights completely unnecessary. The fresco work on the ceiling, and indeed all over the room, was really magnificent, and elicited loud marks of approval from all who visited the building.

“The Senate Chamber is very beautiful, though no so imposing as the House of Representatives. Over the seat of the President of the Senate, is a full length portrait of Georgia Washington, the first rebel known in American history, from the celebrated painting of Gilbert Stuart. It is very beautiful, and an ornament to the Senate Chamber.

“The Supreme Court Library contains two full length portraits; the one on the left of the Hall representing Benjamin Franklin, the Printer, Philosopher and Statesman, and the other, on the right, of the gallant Lafayette.

“The committee rooms deserve especial notice for the extreme good taste in which they have been arranged, but the apartments upstairs, the doors of which were all marked: ‘Sleeping Room–For Rent,’ were in bad taste to say the least of it. They might very properly have been reserved for the use of the attaches of the building, but the idea of making a cheap lodging house out of the top so elegant a building seems really absurd… .”

“The Messrs. Kimball have displayed a tremendous energy in the matter; and certain it is, that this colossal edifice is ready for the Legislature–is very nearly completed, and is an ornament and architectural achievement of which not only Atlanta, but the state may justly be proud.”

Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969 reprint of 1954 original volume), Vol. I, pp. 802-804.