Category

Pennsylvania Attractions and Musuems

America travel destinations Art Exhibits Art in America art of travel Arts and Entertainment Central Pennsylvania Arts and Entertainment Central Pennsylvania Attractions Custom trips and tours Events Exhibits Family Travel Global Tourism historic architecture history Holiday Travel Lifestyle Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Attractions and Musuems Tour Guide App Tourist App Travel Travel Advice Travel and Leisure Traveler Information World Travel

Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex

  • By
  • December 3, 2018
  • Sticky

Preserving Artistic and Historical Treasures

Rotunda Exterior Image PA State Capitol Complex
At the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building complex, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the 272-foot, 52 million-pound capitol dome glistens with Vermont granite. It’s 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 Visit Hershey-Harrisburg
What makes the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building an architectural masterpiece?
You need to schedule a tour of Harrisburg and while you’re in town, 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.

Until my recent Harrisburg travel assignment, I only recall seeing this stately icon from a distance. That’s nothing to brag about considering I’m a life-long Pennsylvania resident. The day I visited couldn’t have been more beautiful as the sunbeam illuminated the dome.

As the traffic whizzed by me on one of Harrisburg’s busiest streets, I took a moment to admire the dome from the sidewalk in front of the complex before I made the climb up the exterior stairs to the entrance. I also realized I had no idea what entrance to use.

While rushing up and down two flights of exterior steps not once but twice on my way to my private tour appointment, I checked my watch and realized I was five minutes late before I entered the building. Blame it on the sprawling complex and multiple sets of doors that confused me.

Fortunately, a bystander pointed me in the right direction in the vicinity of the main entrance and a security guard mapped out my trek to the information desk in the lobby. Minutes later I met my guide who was surrounded by several large groups of visitors who were ready to embark on their tours.

Travel assignments offer many perks and Rick Dunlap, of the Visit Hershey and Harrisburg office, Harrisburg’s official tourism board, 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 tours are so organized and effortless.

While Harrisburg has remained Pennsylvania’s capital since October 1812, my tour guide, Jill Fetter is a storyteller who in a comparatively short time, learned the full history and stories to keep you entertained throughout your tour. She knows the building inside and out. Jill is 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.

As we strolled through the first area, she began by pointing out many of the materials used throughout the complex. In case you didn’t know, 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. Before you go, download the PA Capitol Self-Guided Tour Mobile app to learn about the self-guided tour stops and how a bill becomes law in PA. You’ll find 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.

Fill your head with Pennsylvania history and 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. 

Looking for more Harrisburg articles, check out https://joanmatsuitravelwriter.com/wildwood-park-nature-abounds.

Planning content after a media trip can be daunting but you can simplify your life with the Content Creators Planner, a tool I use to organize my life.

No Comments
Central Pennsylvania Arts and Entertainment Central Pennsylvania Attractions Chocolate chocolate attractions Chocolate Manufacturer Custom trips and tours Events Exhibits Food Food and Travel history Holiday Travel Lifestyle Museums Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Attractions and Musuems

Chocolate Dreams Are Sweet

  • By
  • November 12, 2018
  • Sticky
Chocolate Hershey Bar

Hershey Story Museum Tells a Sugary Tale

Melding Chocolate Culture with History

Milton S. Hershey School
The Milton Hershey School, a private, cost-free residential school was founded by Milton Hershey and his wife, Catherine, for children from lower-income families. The lobby mural brings to life the iconic entrepreneur and philanthropist, Milton S. Hershey.  Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Chocolate Dreams Are Sweet for visitors to Hershey, PA.  You’ll leave Chocolate Town with the aroma of chocolate embedded in your mind and senses.

Most of all, who doesn’t love a story with a happy ending?

We’ve all heard of extraordinarily successful entrepreneurs and we can’t help but wonder how they rose above the day-to-day challenges associated with running a business. Milton S. Hershey is an individual we can admire for his dream and vision but he wasn’t an instant success.

Where can you learn more about Milton S. Hershey and his legacy?

At the Hershey Story Museum, The Hershey Company’s most recent building endeavor.

The Hershey Story Museum
Learn how Milton S. Hershey rose from rags to riches. Plan a visit to the Hershey Story Museum. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

The Hershey museum opened in January 2009 in the heart of downtown Hershey, a magical town where the streetlights are modeled after Hershey Kisses and the aroma within each building is a reminder of why chocolate is a good as gold. More than 160,000 people visit the museum every year.

The story goes that around the turn of the century, chocolate was a booming business and Milton Hershey was so inspired, he sold his caramel business and broke ground for a new chocolate factory in nearby Derry Township, his hometown. For as long as I can remember, the Hershey bar has been a symbol of chocolatey sweetness and the iconic chocolate-colored wrapper that has evolved over the years is also a reminder of days gone by. But it’s more than the chocolate that’s represented in the museum. It’s Milton Hershey’s rag to riches’ story. Walk into a grocery store or anywhere that food is sold and you’ll likely find a product manufactured by the Hershey Company. More than a century after Hershey built his factory, Hershey products are manufactured and savored around the world.

Milton S. Hershey legacy
Buttons. dials and story-board exhibits teach children about Milton S. Hershey and his legacy. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

My recent media trip to Hershey was a fascinating mix of chocolate culture. The Hershey Story Museum, 63 West Chocolate Ave., Hershey, Pennsylvania, helps to tie together the entire Hershey experience with a mix of exhibits and archives that will ignite your curiosity about the art of chocolate making and demystify the man who started the company from scratch. Where are the ingredients sourced? Where does Hershey find such large quantities of cocoa beans to mass produce chocolate? Where do the sugar and dairy that are key ingredients in many of products originate? The exhibits answer those questions through visuals and hands-on experimentation that every child and adult should experience at least once.

The Hershey Museum Cuba Exhibit
What was Milton Hershey’s relationship with Cuba? Find out at the exhibit happening at The Hershey Story Museum, Hershey, PA. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
Milton S. Hershey Cuba Award
Discover why Milton S. Hershey’s was awarded
the “Grand Cross of the National Order of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes” by Cuba’s president in 1933. Image courtesy of The Hershey Story Museum.

The “Failures to Fortunes” exhibit is one that particularly illustrates how determination can result in ultimate success. Milton S. Hershey found success while at the Lancaster Caramel Company and grew his company from there into a booming chocolate business. Each piece in the exhibits is presented so they appeal to adults and children. 

Don’t leave the museum without stopping at The Pantry Cafe for coffee, sweets and confections, a smoothie, breakfast and lunch sandwiches and salads and other treats to round out your museum experience.

Come to the museum as a family or plan a school field or scout trip to the museum. Winter can be long and boring. Check out the calendar of events here and beat the January and February blues at The Hershey Story Museum.

Chocolate World
What do you love most about chocolate? The taste, smooth texture, or the creaminess that melts in your mouth, or all of the above? I’d love to know your answer. Please leave a comment on the form below and share your thoughts on Instagram at #ChocolateWorld.

Hershey Chocolate World

The Hershey Story Museum is only a few Hershey Kiss miles away (nine minutes) from Hershey’s Chocolate World, another extraordinarily popular attraction. This one is free. You can board the chocolate making tour and find and smell the outrageous chocolate aroma throughout your tour.  Hershey’s famous characters tell the story of chocolate making that begins with cocoa beans and ends with the wrapping process.

Chocolate Hershey Bar
The M.S. Hershey timeline helps keep the evolution of Milton Hershey’s cherished business in perspective. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
chocolate tours
Hershey’s famous characters greet you around each bend and help describe the chocolate-making process. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Find your seat on the indoor tour tram. Tours run continuously throughout the day every 30 minutes (during business hours) and it’s WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE. After you’ve learned everything you should know about chocolate making, head to the 3D Chocolate Mystery Show and by that time, oh, you’ll be ready to create your own candy bar. The fun continues with the Hershey Trolley Tour, a seasonal way to view the incredible array of attractions Hershey offers its visitors. Book your tickets in advance online for the Holly Jolly Trolley that’ll delight your children. Or stop at the Central Ticketing office to purchase tickets. Caroling, stories, and a visit from a special guest will keep you entertained and set you in a holiday mode.

I visited Hershey in late summer and early fall and arrived to find flowers in bloom and meticulously manicured grounds and a flurry of activity.  Each season brings something new in this old-fashioned town. Put down your electronic devices so you can appreciate the farmlands and rolling hills that lead to Hershey. Play a game about what you see, or count the number of cows along the way to prepare your family for the attractions that will greet them at Hershey.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, and other Chocolate Dreams are Sweet examples of Milton S. Hershey’s legacy. Visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org for a complete list of Hershey attractions.

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

[ninja_form id=1]

No Comments
Travel Journalists Bistro is a learning and support group that teaches travel writers the skills they need to become successful travel journalists

Receive the latest news

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get notified about new articles

Explore


Your Purpose-Oriented Adventure

Your Purpose-Oriented Adventure

Let’s start by asking ourselves a question: How many times a week, in our ongoing activities, do we see situations…
Venture to the "Land of the Long White Cloud"
No matter where you go in New Zealand, you’ll come across various pubs with excellent beer, fine wine and wonderful…

ARTPIQ Inspires Artists

ARTPIQ Inspires Artists

Six emerging, talented artists from around the world gathered at the vernissage (a private viewing of paintings before a public exhibition…
Frost Museum FIU Artists Deconstruct and Reorder

Frost Museum FIU Artists Deconstruct and Reorder

  Twelve Miami Artists Kick-Off 10th Anniversary Celebration  Using The Past As A Tool: An Interview With Frost Art Museum…
Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania

Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania

Two weeks ago, I brought my oldest son along on a two-hour evening trip to the Lackawanna River, a tributary…
Fly-Fishing Friday

Fly-Fishing Friday

Adventures on the Water Weekly Summer Fly-Fishing Journal Fly-Fishing Friday is a weekly summer journal. Not every Friday am I…

Family fly fishing fun

Family fishing fun in upstate NY. Are you fishing for fun family outdoor vacations? The Salmon River and Tailwater Lodge Nurturing…
A Penchant for Travel

A Penchant for Travel

Above all, Marcella Nardi has a fondness for travel and writing mystery and detective novels. Her novels combine history and…
Travel 2020

Travel 2020

Dubai Tourism on behalf of the Expo 2020 Dubai is the presenting sponsor of the 17th Annual New York Times…
Learn Travel Writing

Learn Travel Writing

PLAN YOUR SOLO MEDIA TRIP (LIKE A PRO) Get the Tips You Need to Grow Your Career in the Travel…