The Virginia Capitol is a living landmark to American self-government. Since 1788, it has been home to the General Assembly, the oldest legislature continuously operating in the Western Hemisphere. Designed by Thomas Jefferson, the Capitol was the first public building in the New World constructed in the Monumental Classical style; it has served as a prototype for countless capitols, courthouses, municipal buildings, and even churches and residences for more than 200 years.
Capitol visitors can learn more about Virginia’s central role in American history, thanks to a film, Keepers of the Flame, produced by the Virginia Capitol Foundation with assistance from actor, filmmaker, and Virginia native Tim Reid. The 20-minute visually-interactive film is available in the Virginia Capitol Visitor Extension for viewing seven days a week during regular tour hours. For visitors that can not view the film at the Capitol, it is also presented below via YouTube.
A new Keepers of the Flame student activity book has been developed and is available for download. The film and Student Activity Book correlate with the 2008 History and Social Science Standards of Learning for Virginia Studies. The activity book was created by Tanya Siwik, a Fairfax County Public Schools teacher, in collaboration with Betsy Barton, Specialist for History and Social Science for the Commonwealth of Virginia's Department of Education.
Beginning April 2, 2015, the Virginia General Assembly will showcase a new exhibition in the gallery of the Capitol Extension, accessed by the public from the Bank Street entrance. Called Eye on the Capitol, this exhibit was developed in partnership with the Capitol Square Preservation Council, and will run for several months to support spring and fall fieldtrips as well as the summer tourist season.
Eye on the Capitol takes the visitor from the lead-up to the evacuation of the Capital City and its burning on April 2, 1865, to occupation by Federal troops and officials, and to the beginnings of recovery and rebuilding on new foundations. The Capitol and Square and environs are seen through the words of eye witnesses and the images of artists, map-makers and photographers of the day. Eye on the Capitol provides a visual and content-rich experience to teach about this defining period of our shared journey as a nation.
The official Capitol Square ornaments are a series of annual collectible ornaments, featuring the historic treasures of Capitol Square. Finished in brilliant 24K gold, made entirely in the U.S.A, and presented in a handsome gift box, the ornaments are a perfect gift for colleagues and friends. All proceeds support the Virginia Capitol Foundation’s mission to enhance the educational and cultural potential of Capitol Square’s historic treasures through program development and community engagement.
The First Annual Ornament, introduced in 2012, features the Jefferson-designed Capitol. The Second Annual Virginia Capitol Ornament, introduced in 2013, features the historic Bell Tower. The Third Annual Ornament introduced in 2014, features true historic Executive Mansion. The newest in the series of ornaments for 2015 features the George Washington Equestrian Monument.
Download a detailed price list and order form.
Additionally, orders are also being taken online at the Virginia Capitol Foundation's secure giving site.
RICHMOND – 3/28/13 The Women of Virginia Commemorative Commission announced the selection of the winning design for the Women's Monument to be placed on the grounds of Virginia's Capitol Square in Richmond. Thought to be the first of its kind in the nation, the Monument will commemorate the collective contributions of the women of Virginia throughout the past 400 years of its storied history. Prominently placed and respectfully integrated into the historic Capitol landscape, the Monument's oval-garden design includes elements of sculpture and landscaping that will provide visitors an interactive and educational experience. Out of 34 designs submitted from around the world, the Commission unanimously selected the winning design by StudioEIS of Brooklyn, New York and The 1717 Design Group, Inc. of Richmond, Virginia. Today’s decision was announced in conjunction with the Library of Virginia's annual Virginia Women in History awards celebration.
See the full press release on the monument announcement.
The Board of Trustees of the Virginia Capitol Foundation announced that the long-anticipated statue of Thomas Jefferson was dedicated on Friday, May 4, 2012. The Executive Committee of the 2007 Virginia Capitol Restoration and Extension Project charged the Virginia Capitol Foundation with the task of commissioning an original work of art representing Thomas Jefferson, the architect of the Virginia Capitol. Three distinguished Virginians - Tom Farrell, Bill Goodwin, Brent Halsey and their families - stepped forward to fund the project which has taken just over a year to complete. Ivan Schwartz, co-founder of StudioEIS, was tapped by the Foundation to create the original full-length bronze image. The statue, on permanent display in the Capitol Extension, serves as a guidepost, beckoning the more than 100,000 annual visitors to enter America’s first monument to democracy.
The General Assembly has released a state of the art virtual tours website that brings Virginia's State Capitol to the citizens of Virginia. The website provides online tours of both the Capitol Grounds and the Capitol Building. Visitors to this interactive website will have the ability to explore areas on their own or view video presentations.
Please note the virtual tours website requires the Adobe Flash Player. You can download the Flash Player at the Adobe website at no charge. If you do not have the Flash Player plug-in installed, you will be prompted to install it before any content is shown.
For visitors with special needs: An accessible segment of this website has been created for those visitors who use technology other than standard web browsers to view web content.
On July 21, 2008, The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial was unveiled on Capitol Square. The Memorial is a privately financed, $2.6 million granite and bronze statue. It is the first statue on the grounds of the historic Capitol to include depictions of blacks and women in prominent roles.
The 18-figure sculpture called a "living memorial" by sculptor Stanley Bleifeld is meant to represent a key moment in the history of the civil-rights movement in Virginia. The new Memorial spotlights the African-American students in rural Prince Edward County whose 1951 walkout to protest their run-down school led to a lawsuit that was folded into the challenge that triggered the 1954 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court banning segregated public schools.
Among the figures on the Memorial is Oliver W. Hill, Sr. holding a rumpled legal brief aloft as he stands shoulder to shoulder with law partner Spottswood W. Robinson III. They took on the case of the Prince Edward County students who protested the shabby condition of their school. Barbara Johns was the one who called the school strike in 1951 and she is also featured. The student protests garnered support from the local community, benefiting from the moral leadership of the Rev. L. Francis Griffin, who is also a part of the memorial.
The Virginia State Capitol, recently restored, and Poplar Forest, Jefferson's rural retreat in Bedford County, are among 14 sites in the U.S. selected for inclusion on a new U.S. World Heritage Tentative List, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced earlier this year. Inclusion on the U.S. list is "the necessary first step" toward being considered for inscription on the United Nations World Heritage List, "the most prestigious international recognition accorded to properties of global importance," Kempthorne said in his announcement.