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First Floor and Rotunda

Click to view a video of the Rotunda

The Rotunda

Step into the center of the rotunda and look up to the breathtaking interior of the dome. Above you, the rotunda rises to an opening at the top of the inner dome called the oculus, or eye of the dome. You can see thirteen large stars, which represent the thirteen original colonies, and forty-three smaller stars, representing Idaho’s admission as the forty-third state in the Union.

Dome interior

Dome interior

Click to view a video of the upper floors of the CapitolThe dome is actually two domes: an inner dome constructed of wood and plaster and an outer dome constructed of steel and concrete and roofed with terracotta tiles.

In the center of the rotunda you are ringed by eight massive steel columns clad in scagliola. These sixty-foot-high columns support the dome and surround the gray, black, and red compass rose medallion on the floor.

Looking down at the floor, you see a design called a “compass rose” in the center of the rotunda. The compass rose design was originally created to indicate the cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west – on nautical charts. Over time it became a popular design, or motif, and has been used by architects as a decorative element in many other buildings.

Decorative features of Treasurer vault

Decorative features of Treasurer vault

The Treasurer’s Office

On the east side of the first floor is the Treasurer’s office. Inside, an original vault contains a large manganese steel safe made in 1905 and still used today.

The Manganese Steel Safe Company was founded in the late 1890s as Hibbard, Rodman and Ely Company. At a plant in New Jersey, the company specialized in the manufacture of safes made of manganese steel, including a model called the “cannonball.” The Hibbard, Rodman and Ely Company was so successful with sales of manganese steel safes that it changed its name to reflect the company’s success. The round, double-locked, tightly sealed cannonball safe is still considered one of the most secure models.

Legislative Services

The Legislative Services Office (LSO), the nonpartisan support staff for the Legislature, also occupies the first floor. The LSO conducts bill research; drafts legislation; and provides budget analysis, financial compliance audits, and technology support for the Idaho Legislature.

An interesting feature of this floor is the elevator located outside the Legislative Reference Library. This private elevator transported judges to the Idaho Supreme Court Chamber, originally located on the third floor.