Hundreds of visitors and special guests crowded into the capitol rotunda for a dedication ceremony 153 years in the making.
“I hereby dedicate this building to the glory of God and the people of the great state of Kansas. Long may they live,” said Governor Sam Brownback at the conclusion of a ceremony that celebrated not just the state’s birthday, but the impressive renovation that has been ongoing for the past 14 years.
Brownback, Jennie Chinn, executive director of the Kansas Historical Society, and a host of current and former legislators spoke in honor of the building and the people who have worked both in it, and on it.
John Holt, news anchor for Fox 4 in Kansas City, served as master of ceremonies. Performances by interpreters of famous Kansans, as well as several numbers performed by the Topeka West High School orchestra were interspersed amongst the speakers. Performing “God Bless America” and the “Star Spangled Banner” was a surprise guest vocalist – Wintley Phipps. Giant birthday cakes adorned with artwork of the capitol were wheeled in for a rendition of “Happy Birthday” sung to the state.
Speakers for the event included: Speaker of the House Ray Merrick, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, Senate President Susan Wagle, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, former Speaker of the House Robin Jennison, and former Senate President Steve Morris.
Activities in the capitol included tours and activities for children and school groups, bringing special attention to the architecture and ornate design of the building, much of which has not been visible to the public eye in many years.
“Kansas has so much to be proud of in this building, and the work that’s been done to restore it,” said Department of Administration Secretary Jim Clark. “Our capitol is one of the most beautiful of all the capitols in the nation.”