Capitol secrets 10 little-known facts about the wisconsin state capitol building local news host.madison.com current electricity examples

That may explain why she is frequently confused with the copper statue that is named "Forward," installed near the east entrance of the Capitol in 1895, moved in 1909 to the North Hamilton Street approach and then relocated indoors to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1995 after conservators discovered she was deteriorating.

The Capitol is 100 years old this year. To mark the occasion, the Wisconsin State Journal is producing a series of pullout sections highlighting different aspects of this remarkable edifice. Today, we’re looking at some of the little-known and unusual aspects of the building that anchors Madison’s Downtown.

Wisconsin was placed atop the Capitol’s lantern in 1914 — not entirely without incident. "In its perilous journey upward the statue was brushed against one or two projections and the gilt was scratched," the Wisconsin State Journal reported in a story noting efforts shortly afterward to touch up her gold leaf.

An appealing sight anytime, the newly shimmering apparition held a special appeal for former Gov. Tommy Thompson after her last full recoat in 1990. Just days before the project was completed, Thompson, needing to burn off pent up energy on Election Day, climbed the scaffolding and is believed to be the first governor to touch the outside of the statue.

Yes, that is a real bank vault door on the wall of the West Wing on the first floor. It is from the original treasurer’s office, purchased in 1910 for two payments of $2,068 each from Herring Hall Marvin. No one seems to remember the combination. You can still find the state treasurer’s office in the Capitol, but these days it’s in the basement. Precise clocks

No longer in use, the Capitol’s original clock system was constructed so that 168 clocks could run in unison with one master clock. Air was compressed through pipes to each clock, moving the hands every minute. The master clock and parts of the system are on display in the Capitol museum on the sixth floor. Dedication delayed

When construction of the Capitol was completed in 1917, the U.S. had just entered World War I. In addition, the building was occupied wing by wing as each section was finished. Those two factors argued against holding an official ceremony to mark its completion.

That oversight was finally rectified 48 years later when, on July 7, 1965, Gov. Warren Knowles helped dedicate the Capitol in a ceremony outside the State Street entrance. About 150 people were on hand along with the 32nd Division band, 100 color guards and about 30 veterans representing a variety of organizations. Lion fountain

On display in the Capitol museum on the sixth floor is an original lion’s head drinking fountain. It was removed after potential sanitary problems arose because a person could only get a drink by using a tin cup attached to the fountain with a chain. Lights out

Beginning in 1937, a huge electric "W" decorated the Capitol dome during the college football season. The "W" was 12 feet high and 13 feet wide, with 250 red light bulbs that glowed toward State Street on football weekends. It was removed in 1942 to conserve energy during World War II. Animals in the Capitol

A deer ran through the rotunda on June 13, 1989, while the revolving doors were opened in the heat. Squirrels used to build nests inside the lights along the balustrade. In 1944, Gov. Walter Goodland’s collie, Tippie, had nine puppies, and for the war effort, they were auctioned off in the rotunda. The litter brought $535 for the Red Cross.