Governments are a lot like people (well, duh, they are people!), and when it comes to spending money, they do the same sorts of things people do. They try to save money by being cheap and using poor quality materials or convict labor or not-very-good designers and builders (or all three), or they get foolish and spend lots of money without thinking where the money will come from when it’s time to pay. Or they spend their money on quality building materials, techniques and designs and build as the finances come in.

Let’s start with the bad guys!

Nebraska - Nebraska’s current state capitol is one of the most beautiful in the nation. It is also majestic and well-constructed. But let me tell you about the first two capitols!

The architects, great and small.

Thomas Jefferson - Yes, the same man who was the third president of the United States was also a noted architect! His own home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia, was designed by him, as well as many of the buildings of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Jefferson modeled the Virginia State Capitol after an ancient Roman temple in France. In fact, you can still see the plaster model of the new capitol he designed (well, it was new in 1785)

Cass Gilbert - Responsible for the designs of the Saint Paul, Minnesota and Charleston, West Virginia capitols, Gilbert also finished the work on the Little Rock, Arkansas capitol when the original architect, George Mann of Saint Louis, was fired from the job.

Charleston, West Virginia

Columbus, Ohio

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Denver, Colorado

Austin, Texas

Richmond, Virginia

Atlanta, Georgia

Augusta, Maine

Bismarck, North Dakota