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Capitol Grounds

Diagram of Capitol Grounds

1. GAR Monument, 2. Model 1840, 3. Liberty Bell Replica, 4. Steunenberg Memorial, 5. Abraham Lincoln Statue, 6. Pioneer Monument

Click to view a video of the Capitol monuments

The open and spacious lawn resembles the original 1905 Capitol landscape. Over time, numerous trees and bushes were planted on the grounds, eventually masking full view of the building. During renovation, many old and diseased trees were removed. The wood has been used to produce gavels, benches, and gift shop souvenirs.

One tree remains – the tree commemorating 9/11, which was dedicated by Governor Dirk Kempthorne. As you walk the grounds and sidewalks, hot water boils beneath your feet. Idaho’s Capitol is the only one in the United States heated by geothermal water. Boise sits atop a large, naturally occurring geothermal resource where water is pumped from three thousand feet underground.

Ezra Meeker

Ezra Meeker

As you stand at the Capitol steps, you are looking at the main ceremonial entrance where visitors are greeted and inaugurations are held. A replica of the Liberty Bell, molded in France, stands at the base of the stairs and was given to the state by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 1950. Two giant spheres of Montana granite flank the thirty-three steps. Don’t forget to look up at the bronze plated copper eagle perched atop the Capitol dome. It’s difficult to guess its size from such a distance, but it is 5'7" tall.

Erected in 1906, Pioneer Monument – located on the southeast grounds – honors pioneers of the Old Oregon Trail. The national movement to preserve the Oregon Trail was organized by Ezra Meeker, who travelled west to Oregon on the trail in 1852 by oxcart. In 1906, at age 76, he began work to preserve the trail and in time he followed the trail by auto and airplane.

Governor Stuenenberg

Governor Stuenenberg

The Model 1840 cast-iron cannon is a seacoast gun used by the Confederacy in the Civil War and was purchased by State Treasurer S. A. Hastings and Senator William Borah.

Dedicated in 1927, the Steunenberg Memorial, south of the Capitol’s main entrance in Capitol Park, honors Governor Frank Steunenberg, who served Idaho from 1897 to 1900 and was assassinated in 1905.

The Abraham Lincoln Statue, south of the Steunenberg Memorial, was originally placed on the grounds of the Old Soldier’s Home in 1915, approximately three miles west of the Capitol. When the Old Soldier’s Home was demolished in the 1970s for construction of Veterans Memorial State Park, the Abraham Lincoln Statue was moved to the grounds of the Veterans Administration at the site of Old Fort Boise. An expansion project in 2008 led to the removal of the statue, which was placed at its current location and rededicated in a ceremony on February 12, 2009.

Grand Army of the Republic

Grand Army of the Republic

The Grand Army of the Republic Monument (GAR), located on the northwest grounds, was donated in 1935 by the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic to honor the men of the Union Army who served in the Civil War.

Capitol Mall Geothermal Energy Project Facts

  • Geothermal heat is natural heat from below the earth’s surface.
  • Boise sits atop a large, naturally occurring geothermal resource. Hot water is tapped and pumped from a source 3,000 feet underground.
  • In 1892, a hot water heating district was created for Warm Springs Avenue, the first such district in the United States.
  • The energy crisis of the 1970s led to a renewed interest in the use of geothermal heat.
  • Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus requested a federal feasibility study on the possibility of using geothermal energy to heat state buildings in the Capitol Mall.
  • The Capitol Mall Geothermal Energy Project was completed in 1982.
  • State buildings on Franklin and Jefferson streets between 3rd and 8th streets are heated using geothermal energy.
  • Idaho’s Capitol is the only state capitol in the United States heated by geothermal energy.
  • The geothermal well is located in a small building in the parking lot behind the Len B. Jordan Building.
  • Using geothermal energy to heat state buildings saves the State of Idaho approximately $250,000 in heating expenses every year.