Virginia Capitol

Mr. Jefferson's Capitol: One Of America's 10 Most Influential Buildings

As physically and mentally grueling as a session of the Virginia General Assembly is, as many heartaches and headaches as it produces, and despite the 12-hour days and ups-and-downs of seeing good bills advance only to see them watered down or even defeated, or bad bills pass, there is one thing that keeps us (or at least me) inspired and lobbying legislators with optimism: Mr. Jefferson's Capitol. It even (rightly) tempers the glow of victory with magnanimity. Knowing the momentous events that took place there (and take place there), the towering figures who have purposefully paced its marble floors and filled its stately chambers, as well as the man who designed it, gives perspective to passing good bills and killing bad ones — at once it's not saying a whole lot, yet still a significant contributor to the continuum of representative government, the oldest continuously meeting one in the Western Hemisphere, at that. Attempts at poetic prose and the mysticism and majesty of history aside, it's one cool workspace! After all, who gets to work in a 1788 building as modern as it is historic with some of the most interesting characters in the country?

It's hard to believe some people in the country, let alone Virginia, still don't realize what a treasure the capitol is, but that number will shrink early next year when a PBS special on the 10 of the most influential buildings in America airs. The production crew shot video in Capitol Square this week, as well as at U.Va. and Monticello as background to Jefferson's Temple of Democracy.

Jefferson's Temple to Democracy sits on Richmond's Shockoe Hill. Originally in the middle of nowhere for all to see and from which to take inspiration. Historians and architects agree. It's a treasure we never take for granted.

That's what it is, of course. Situated on Shockoe Hill and reminiscent of a Roman Greek classical temple in France, Jefferson built it as he did and where he did so that people far and wide would be reminded of, and respectful of, their freedom. High rise buildings now block the reach of the temple, but not its influence. Geoffrey Baer, the host of the documentary 10 Buildings That Changed America, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch today:

The Virginia State Capitol really started the tradition in this country of government buildings looking like Roman and Greek temples.

But its not only the outside that the show's producers keyed on. It will play up Jefferson's most fascinating architectural aspect, its interior rotunda, as well a skeleton look at the buildings walls. That's appropriate because as awesome as the outside is, the inside is nothing less than an office masked as a museum. Imagine talking over education reform with a senator next to the most valuable piece of marble in North America? That the old is always new and regenerative alone makes this Temple unique. As places of worship are supposed to do that, this secular temple refreshes us not with a worship of government, but a love of liberty.

The 10 buildings selected were judged by architectural historians and others to have had a powerful architecturally but also an influence "on the way we live," according to Baer. The capitol influenced the U.S. Capitol as well as banks across America, according to the show. If only it influenced the governance that comes out of the U.S. Capitol.

The Houdon statue of George Washington, done from life by a body cast, gives us the best impression of what he looked like and is considered the most valuable piece of marble in the continent. 

Voter Guides For November Elections Ready This Weekend!

The Family Foundation of Virginia's 2009 Voter Guides, non-partisan bulletin inserts that compare the positions of candidates on important issues such as life, marriage, parental rights and religious liberty, now are available. These Guides do not endorse or oppose any candidate or political party and are legal for distribution in churches. We were busy all summer encouraging pastors to engage in the civic process. Many have committed to distributing our Voter Guides in their churches. However, Virginia is a very large state and we have areas that have not yet been reached. We need your help in getting our Voter Guides into every church that is concerned about the direction in which our state and nation are heading. Please ask your pastor if your church will take The Family Foundation Voter Guides.

Each year, people contact several pastors and ask them to take the guides. This year, we are offering a small prize for your participation: Win a framed Virginia Capitol photo by submitting the largest number of churches with which you coordinated and delivered Family Foundation Voter Guides before midnight, November 3. Voter guide distribution at targeted events also will be considered.

Plus, we have another incentive: Start by entering just one church you know you can help with Voter Guides and you will be entered into the drawing to receive an autographed copy of our Gala speaker and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's latest book. Click here to enter.

On Saturday, October 17 (unless otherwise noted), we will have distribution sites across Virginia to pick up the Voter Guides. See the list below for the one closest to you. If there are none in your area, please volunteer to set up a distribution point for two hours that Saturday. To help in any way with this effort, e-mail or call 1-804-343-0010. Whether you want to take Voter Guides to your church, set up a distribution point in your area or be the contact person for your city or county, we need your help.

The distribution points are:

Richmond (Contact: Mark Earley, Jr., at 804-405-2129)

Grove Avenue Baptist Church, 8701 Ridge Road, 9:30-noon.

Clover Hill Baptist Church, 3100 Old Courthouse Road (Midlothian), 9:30-noon.

Gethsemane Church of Christ, 5146 Mechanicsville Turnpike (Mechanicsville) 9:30-noon.

Loudoun (Contact: Ryan Rogge at 703-674-6948)

Near Panera Bread, 215 Fort Evans Road, NE (Leesburg), 10:00-1:00 p.m.

Tidewater (Contact: Hector Falcon at 757-288-2382)

Kempsville Presbyterian Church, 805 Kempsville Road (Virginia Beach) 8:30-1:00 p.m.

Peninsula (For more information, call 757-592-0312)

World Outreach Worship Center, 1233 Shields Road (Newport News), 10:00-1:00 p.m.

Lynchburg (For more information, call 434-401-0726)

Thomas Road Baptist Church Parking Lot, 1 Mountain View Road, 10:00–noon.

Henry County (Contact: Jeff Evans at 276-233-9407)

Victory Baptist of Fieldale, 1300 Dillons Fork Road, 11:00-1:00 p.m.

Patrick County (Contact: Mildred Layman at 276-340-0549)

Stuart Festival, Patriots of Patrick County Booth, Between 410 and 402 Patrick Avenue in Stuart, 10:00-4:30 p.m.

Harrisonburg and Rockingham County

Available at the "Values" debate between incumbent Republican Delegate Matt Lohr and Democratic challenger Gene Hart, Cornerstone Church at the Lake, 3591 Isaak Walton Drive, Sunday, October 18

Roanoke (Contact: Mickey Mixon at 540-798-8621)

Tanglewood Mall, under the mall sign, 4420 A-Electric Road, Sunday, October 18, 3:00– 6:00 p.m.

Shenandoah County (Contact: Brad Huddleston at 540-820-0810)

Family Fun Day Festival for Christ, Shenandoah County Fairgrounds, 300 Fairgrounds Road, Woodstock, Sunday, October 18, 10:00-4:00 p.m.

Staunton and Surrounding Area (Contact: Brad Huddleston at 540-820-0810)

Free lunch for pastors! Shoney's Restaurant, 30 Sangers Lane, Staunton (I-81, Exit 222), 11:30–1:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 20. The Family Foundation of Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge are sponsoring a free lunch for pastors. Voter guides will be available there. In order to attend, register by calling Brad Huddleston or e-mailing him at