1901-1938: Historic Grounds and Capitol Architecture

By Arizona Capitol Museum

In 1889, Phoenix was named the territorial capitol of Arizona. For over a decade, territorial officials rented out spaces from the City of Phoenix and eventually broke ground a new Capitol building in 1898. The structure was going to be designed by James Riely Gordon, costing $135,744. The building was going to consist of four floors as well as a copper dome. After three years of construction, the Arizona building was completed in 1901 and served as the Territorial Capitol until 1912, subsequently becoming the official State Capitol for sixty-two years.

Light ChandelierArizona Capitol Museum

During its construction, Arizona was just coming out of the "old west" mentality, welcoming in the new age of technology and electricity.

This chandelier is a mixture of the old and new.

Four-arm Chandelier (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

This four arm chandelier was strongly influenced by the new age of technology.

The face down light fixtures were all designed to carry the newly created electric light bulbs.

Arm of ChandelierArizona Capitol Museum

Taking a closer look, there are serial numbers on this light fixture along with several bolts. Those bolts were used to safely secure the ends of the light bulbs.

Electrical Fixture (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

Years of constant use and erosion can be seen on some of these light fixtures.

The gradual diminution of the ones used in the Capitol are due to them all being made from copper.

Front of Electrical Fixture (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

Edison-Patent was the company used to supply the electrical engineering aspect of the Arizona Capitol Building.

The Edison Patent company was established by notable American inventor, Thomas Edison

Copper wires (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

To keep with the theme of copper, the Arizona mineral was also used to supply electricity to the various chandeliers via wiring.

In this photo the copper wires are surrounded by tin coiling and copper colored roping.

Gas Arm of Chandelier (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

On the contrasting side of the previous light fixture, this particular chandelier was still part of the old age of technology.

The upwards direction of the arm indicates a gas-powered fixture.

Individual Gas Arm of Chandelier (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

This gas arm shows the turn mechanism used to power the gas arm on and off, which would have to be turned every morning and every night by a light technician.

Bottom of Gas Arm of Chandelier (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

All of the gas light fixtures were made by a local companies in Arizona. The main one being near downtown Phoenix.

Edge of Chandelier (1898) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

The architect of the building, James Riely Gordon, was known for his strong attention to detail.

The chandeliers in the Capitol had various decorative pieces. A good portion of these elements were made to represent Arizona in some way.

Gas Arm of Chandelier (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

For the gas arms of the chandeliers, attachments were need to connect the curled portions of the fixture.

Rather than simply putting it together, flower-like metal were sculpted to link the parts together.

Details of Gas Arm (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

The copper of the upper portion of the arm were used to produce more metal flower embellishments for the chandelier.

Every copper garnishing was made by hand, courtesy of local welders.

Six Arm Chandelier (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

The skeletal remains of a gas powered chandelier show the many curved details of the light fixture, with each possessing similar decorative elements.

The main theme of these chandeliers was to demonstrate light sprouting from a flower.

Cluster Body (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

From this viewpoint, this might look like a nail, but it actually the cluster body of the gas chandelier.

This was the "spine" of the light fixture, consisting of strong metal and a copper cover for the bottom.

End of Cluster Body (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

The ends of the gas chandeliers consisted of six holes used to hold the arms of the light fixture.

The first part was metal while the second was the decorative cover.

Decorative Piece from the Capitol (1901)Arizona Capitol Museum

Copper was used as the main source for supplying color and imagery to the capitol.

This item was made entirely of copper and shows a flower growing from the end.

Original Capitol Fireplace Tiles (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

Turquoise tiles were used to for the fireplaces in the building.

The brown and grey colors are due decades of operations.

Back of Capitol Fireplace Tiles (1901) by Thomas EdisonArizona Capitol Museum

The back view has the name of the company who supplied the tiles for the fireplaces.

Some of the back also shows the melted bits of plastering too.

Credits: Story

Naomi Primeau
Carissa Whiting

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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