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December 2018

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Artistic Treasure: PA State Capitol Complex

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  • December 3, 2018
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Rotunda Exterior Image PA State Capitol Complex
The Pennsylvania State Capitol Building complex, Harrisburg, PA Photo courtesy of Visit Hershey-Harrisburg

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building

An Architectural Masterpiece

Plan a visit to Harrisburg and add this National Historic Landmark to your itinerary.

Imagine you’re standing in front of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building around the time of its dedication on Oct. 4, 1906. Close your eyes and envision you’re looking skyward at what was considered to be the tallest structure between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The capitol building held that record for 80 years. That must have been quite a sight to behold.

As a life-long Pennsylvania resident, I’m sorry to note I had only seen my state’s capitol building from a distance until earlier this year on a sunny late September day. As the traffic whizzed by me, I took a moment to admire the dome from the sidewalk in front of the complex. I realized I had no idea what entrance to use. As I walked up and down two flights of exterior steps twice, I checked my watch and realized I was five minutes late for my scheduled tour. I stopped briefly to ask a bystander to point to the main entrance that would lead me to the main lobby and the man directed me to two sets of double doors. A security guard mapped out my trek to the lobby where I found the information desk surrounded by several large groups of visitors who were ready to embark on their tours. There, I met my tour guide.

Visit Hershey-Harrisburg arranged my tour as part of a three-day media trip to Hershey and Harrisburg. I left Central Pennsylvania with a significantly greater understanding of why Harrisburg has remained Pennsylvania’s capital since October 1812 thanks to my tour guide, Jill Fetter. She’s the Capitol Visitor Services director and The Pennsylvania Capitol Shop manager in the Main Rotunda and an expert in both the building’s history and design.

The 272-foot, 52 million-pound capitol dome glistens with Vermont granite and is topped with a green-glazed terra cotta tile roof and inspired by Michelangelo’s design for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Photo Courtesy of UncoveringPA.com

Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston (1866-1940), designed the massive capital structure based on his vision of a “Palace of Art” and that’s exactly what you’ll find. The building and furnishings cost $13 billion.

Aside from its obvious grandeur and size, the exterior of the building is a gateway to the splendor you’ll find inside – classic American Renaissance style architecture that’s combined with artistic details that are unspeakably magnificent and illuminated by approximately 4,000 lights and 48 portholes in the dome.

Suffice to say, the building lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful capitol building in our nation. In fact, history has it that President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the capital as “the handsomest building” he ever saw when he attended the dedication of the building.

PA State Capitol Building Architecture Art
A visitor stops for a moment to gaze at the statues and ornamentation as he descended the grand staircase in the main building. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

The interior focal point is the grand staircase – an ideal vantage point for visitors to view eight large murals by Philadelphia artists, Edwin Austin Abbey, and the famous Barnard  Statues by George Grey Barnard, and 17-foot bronze doors that each weighs a ton. Keeping your eyes fixed on one element at a time might be difficult for even the most disciplined spectator as your tour guide describes each of the massive installations of stained glass, murals, and paintings crafted by the most talented artisans of that era.

Pennsylvania historical exhibits
Love art? The capitol building is as much a series of exhibits as it is a hub for lawmakers and lobbyists. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Some of the largest rooms feature a European influence with distinctive Renaissance elements – Italian in the House Chamber, French in the Senate Chamber, and English in the Governor’s Reception Room. Add to that mix Greek, Roman and Victorian installations of exquisite art and ornamentation displayed throughout the building.

PA Senate and House Chambers Tours
When the legislature is not in session, you’ll have a chance to gaze at the murals, gold embellishments, custom-crafted lighting fixtures, and exquisite woodwork in the chambers. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex Tours
What will you learn during a tour of the PA State Capitol Complex? This massive structure is an ideal opportunity for students of all ages to learn local, state, and national histories, law and politics, and art and architecture. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Historians, politicians, teachers, students, architects, travelers, and anyone with an appreciation for history and art and a fascination with politics and lawmaking, should visit the Pennsylvania State Capitol complex. Architectural students will want to study how Huston, the architect-of-record, incorporated motifs that embody Pennsylvania’s achievements in history, animals, industries, occupations, and modes of transportation into his design. Whether your glance is towards the dome, straight ahead, or under your feet, you’ll find examples of Huston’s affinity for art. One example is the Moravian tiles you’ll see intermingled on the lobby floor. They were designed and manufactured by Henry Chapman Mercer of Doylestown, PA as a way to illustrate and incorporate the talents and wares of local craftsman.

Henry Chapman Mercer Moravian Tiles
As many as 400 tile mosaics by Henry Chapman Mercer, a Doylestown, PA craftsman, are interspersed throughout the first floor of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building Rotunda and nearby corridors. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
William B. Van Ingen 24 Stained Glass windows
The “Militia” is one of 24 stained glass windows in the Senate and House Chambers crafted by Philadelphia native William B. Van Ingen. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

There’s so much to see and take in at the State Capitol Building.  Take the time to download the PA Capitol Self-Guided Tour Mobile app to learn about the self-guided tour stops, how a bill becomes law in PA, and research additional information in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German.

Tours are free and offered every half hour Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or on weekends and most holidays at 9 and 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. You won’t be able to tour the capitol building on New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving and Christmas day but you’ll have plenty of other options before or after those holidays. I encourage you to register for a tour so won’t miss a detail along the way. A Capitol Tour Guide will fill your head with architectural, artistic, and political highlights that will make this building’s incomparable beauty come alive for you. If you decide to wait to schedule your tour until you arrive in Harrisburg, be sure to check the schedule before arriving at the capitol complex.

PA State Capitol Complex Tour Guides
Allow Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex tour guides, Jill Fetter and her staff, to show you around one of Pennsylvania’s most extraordinary buildings.

For help planning your trip to Pennsylvania, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

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Shop for Sunglasses

Sunglass Warehouse: New Styles

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  • December 3, 2018
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Sunglasses for your adventurous spirit

Sunglass Warehouse

This post is sponsored by Sunglass Warehouse.

If you own several pairs of sunglasses, you’ll never need to ask, “Has anyone seen my SUNGLASSES?”

Maybe they’re in my car or in my handbag. In 2017, I sampled six pairs of fashion eyewear from sunglasswarehouse.com and I keep a few pairs in each of our cars so I never leave home without my sunglasses.

FORGET EXPENSIVE DESIGNER EYEWEAR

The last pair of expensive designer sunglasses I purchased did not come home with me after playing a few sets of tennis. I left them on a bench near the tennis court and I experienced buyer’s regret for at least a few weeks after losing them.

Forget the expensive designer eyewear if you’re prone to breaking or losing your sunglasses.

Sunglass Warehouse review by Joan Mead-Matsui
Sunglass Warehouse has a fantastic selection of sunglasses to suit your every mood and activity. You can buy your next pair of Retro Sunglasses for less than $20

Sunglass Warehouse offers a variety of styles and frames that can be worn for all of your activities from hiking and cycling to fly fishing. Your options are to buy sunglasses at affordable prices with no worries if you happen to lose or break them, or obsess about your designer frames when you should focus on your activity and have fun.

What if your sunglasses fall off your head into the water while you’re fly fishing or on a canoe or kayak trip? Will you dive into the water to retrieve your glasses? I hope not.

Sunglasses are not only accessories. They also protect our eyes from UV damage and Polarized lenses improve visibility for activities like fly fishing. Each of the five pairs I’ve sampled has withstood the test of time, after countless hours on the water.

Sunglass Warehouse has hundreds of styles of sunglasses that are priced at $20 or less. If you prefer round, square, oblong, Aviator, textured, black, blue or brown, you’ll find what you’re looking for at www.sunglasswarehouse.com. Click to shop sunglass warehouse BEST SELLERS. 

The site is easy to navigate and filters allow you to find your ideal pair from among Sunglass Warehouse (SW) Exclusives, Festival Shades, Brow Bars, Flat Lenses, Matte Metals, Retro Classics, Bold Shades, Colored Lenses, Cut-Out Shades, and Rose Gold.


DISCLOSURE:

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. I have experience with all of these companies and by linking to their product or a party that sells their products, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and definitely not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

 

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Lifestyle

Learn Journalism and Travel Writing

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  • December 1, 2018
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Plan Your Solo Media Trip Mini-Course

PLAN YOUR SOLO MEDIA TRIP (LIKE A PRO)

Mini-Course Available here

Plan Your Solo Media Trip Mini-Course
Plan Your Solo Media Trip is a high-value, low-cost mini-course available through joanmatsuitravelwriter.com. Learn practical tips from a four-time award-winning freelance travel journalist. 

GET STARTED TODAY! 

Imagine the possibilities that await you in the travel world! Learn and grow your travel business with “Plan Your Solo Media Trip (Like A Pro),” a mini-course I’ve designed to teach you how to arrange a solo media trip. 

Finding a course that prepares you for your career AND matches your lifestyle and needs can be a challenge. 

That’s why I created “Plan Your Solo Media Trip,” a high-value $10 mini-course that will teach you THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PLANNING AN EXTRAORDINARY SOLO MEDIA TRIP. You can buy it here, now, and get a jump on your plans today. 

My goal for my mini-courses (with additional course offerings in the works) is to teach you the tips and techniques I’ve learned as a journalist and travel writer while covering a myriad of destinations and events on more than 50 media trips. Throughout my careers in journalism and travel writing, I learned we all need a coach now and them to help us achieve our dreams.   

BECAUSE if you’re like me, you WANT TO UTILIZE YOUR SKILLS AND TALENTS but when you’re embarking on any new venture or career, you simply don’t know where to begin. I’m here to guide you.  

The truth is my years as a print journalist were some of the best days of my life and winning four newspaper association press awards was the icing on the cake.

I didn’t have demanding editors pressuring me to take on additional assignments and I rarely turned down assignments but I knew I couldn’t pass on an offer to cover services and amenities at lodging destinations in a popular Northeastern Pennsylvania resort region. With more than 1,300 published features’ stories to my credit and eight years writing for the same publications, I accepted my first freelance travel writing position with a tourism website.

Oh, rest assured, reporting on local, national, and international travel is exciting but even more so, when you can tailor your itinerary to reflect your interests and skills. You owe it to yourself to be part of the planning process.

That’s the beauty of a solo media trip. 

Let me guide you along. BUY my mini-course today and get started on your journey into travel writing.  

 

 

Plan Your Solo Media Trip
Learn how to plan your solo media trip today.  

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