Welcome back friends, to another entry into the annals of Crapitols!
Although I have accepted that this quest of mine would be a long journey - likely taking over a decade to complete - I do have a natural inclination towards impatience. I’m a finisher. I struggle mightily to get things started, but once I'm rolling I like to get them finished ASAFP. For example, I recently purchased a box of limited edition pumpkin spice Cheerios purely on a whim at the Safeway self-checkout. I cracked it open whilst watching some college football on a Saturday afternoon, snacking handful by handful straight out of the box. Did I set out to eat the whole box in one sitting? Well, no, but once I had hit that 51% threshold I figured, what the hell, may as well see this through to the end.
I say this to shed some light on my decision to cram another few Crapitol trips into the calendar year for 2023. After my last visit to Jefferson City, Missouri my tally totaled 23 out of 50 Crapitols completed. Why, that’s nearly 25! Why, that’s halfway to 50! Why, I could be halfway done by the end of the year if I could just get another two trips on the calendar! So I found myself heading back to www.flyfrontier.com to price out some options. I had some free weekends in September and October, and after some trial-and-error click-throughs and promo codes I scored a splendidly inexpensive round trip flight to Columbus, OH.
It was a lovely September Saturday, perhaps the last true day of summer weather, when I landed at John Glenn International Airport. A rather quaint facility for the largest city in Ohio. After a short Uber ride downtown I picked up some coffee (decent) and a few donuts (very subpar) from Tim Horton’s and headed toward my hotel.
Now, when I was scouting out lodging accommodations for this trip I was thrilled to discover the Sheraton Capitol Square in downtown Columbus. As you well know I like to book my hotel or Airbnb as close to a capitol as possible to ensure the success of my mission. This hotel is directly across the street from the Ohio Statehouse! I was sold.
I had requested a room overlooking the capitol when I made the booking, knowing full well it may get me on some sort of terrorism watch list, but I was a little disappointed when I arrived in my 5th floor room on the opposite side of the building. Such are the drawbacks of early check-in. Luckily, the view from workout room on the top floor was spectacular. I dropped my backpack, chugged my coffee, and headed across the street.
I was just in time for the 1:00 guided tour. After passing through security I was directed toward the map room, where I found a souvenir penny machine!
The map room is so-named because the floor is decorated with a map of Ohio and its 88 counties, just like at the Kansas capitol in Topeka. Lisa, the kindly volunteer tour guide rounded up the small tour group consisting of myself and a family of three, dressed head to toe in red and silver (the Ohio State Buckeyes were playing that day).
We began in the basement of the capitol which is home to the Ohio Statehouse Museum. Highlights include the gorgeous stained glass state seal and the actual 1802 Ohio Constitution.
After admission to the Union as the 17th state in 1803, Ohio’s capital first resided in Chillicothe, then Zanesville, then back to Chillicothe. In 1812 it was decided an entirely new city would be built, one more centrally located in the state. A site on the banks of the Scioto river known as Wolf’s Ridge was chosen. They called it Columbus. Because Wolf's Ridge sounded too cool, I guess?
A design contest was held in 1838 and Henry Walter of Cincinnati was declared the winner. Construction took place from 1839 to 1861. The most notable feature on the exterior of the building is that, unlike most other state capitols, it has a cupola at its center rather than a dome. This is because it predates the completion of the US Capitol dome in 1866. Most state capitols constructed afterward would have dome-based designs because they are copycats. Ohio also decided to have a weird-shaped flag to be extra different.
The most notable feature inside the building is the pink. I was shocked at how pink it was. Like Casa Bonita pink. The 5,000 hand-cut black, white, and pink floor stones provide the perfect accent. There are ammonite fossils embedded in the stones throughout the halls and stairways of the building as well.
Lisa showed us the House of Representatives chamber, which is also painted in splendorous pink.
We then swung by the governor’s office and the Senate chamber.
The last stop on the tour was the Senate building, formerly the Judiciary Annex. The statehouse had gotten too crowded by the turn of the 20th century, so the Ohio Supreme Court was moved to the brand new Annex just to the east in 1903. The court was then relocated again in 1974. The Judiciary Annex was itself annexed by the capitol for extra legislative office space and was conjoined to the old statehouse by the Atrium.
The Grand Stair Hall is modeled after an Italian opera house. Major Godfather Part III vibes.
Having completed the tour I set out to find the fanciest bathroom I could to complete the mission. That’s 24 Crapitols now completed.
Post-deuce I wandered around the building a bit longer to capture more of the fine details of the building. Abraham Lincoln visited the building on three different occasions, one of which was his funeral procession across the country. A plaque in the Atrium commemorates one of his alive visits.
You can book your wedding or other private event at the Ohio Statehouse, just like the Johnstons. Congrats to the happy couple!
Ohio claims to be the “Mother of Presidents,” as it has provided us with eight of our 46 PsOTUS. This all-star lineup includes William Henry Harrison, our shortest-serving President (died in office after 30 days) and the only President to be the grandfather of another President - Benjamin Harrison, also hailing from Ohio, and the only President to be a grandson of another President; Ulysses S. Grant (a better general than politician); Rutherford B. Hayes (I dare you to name a single fact about him); James Garfield (assassinated); William McKinley (assassinated); William Howard Taft (a better Chief Justice of SCOTUS than POTUS); and Warren G. Harding (also died in office). This means that statistically speaking, Ohioans are four times more likely to die as POTUS than citizens of any other state. Not exactly the best track record, but hey, go ahead and toot that horn Ohio. Consequently, there are various portraits commemorating these beloved sons and even a monument to William McKinley on the west side of the capitol grounds.
Having completed my mission I set out to explore some more of the city. First stop was Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace, where I had some decent dogs and some superb tater tots. Muy, muy crispy. I followed that up with a trip to Buckeye Donuts to see how they do cheap Midwestern donuts in Ohio. I loved the run-down mid-20th century aesthetics, but was, sadly, kinda not so impressed with the donuts. A blueberry cake donut and a longjohn are my go-tos for judging a donut shop and I found these a bit lacking. What can I say. It’s no Donutland.
I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering along the Scioto river back towards downtown. Columbus has a remarkably small-town vibe for such a large city. One easily forgets they have a professional hockey team.
The rest of my stay was spent relaxing in the bath tub in my hotel room and watching Terminator 2 and Roadhouse, two of my favorite movies of all time back-to-back on Showtime. The best possible ending to a 24-hour whirlwind trip to another capital city.
Will I make it to 25 by the end of 2023?