When the fire which destroyed much of the Iowa State Capitol Building took hold on January 4 th 1904, old veterans risked their lives to save several pieces of Iowa’s history.
The items in question are the 128 battle flags. Thankfully, the fire never reached that far, and the flags survived another day. The flags are considered of vital importance in the preservation of Iowa’s war history; with battle flags from the American Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I all included in the exhibit that was, for many years, housed in exhibit cases around the main floor atrium in the building. As of 2002, the flags so many veterans chose to protect in 1904 were moved to a new home at the Battle Flag Conservation Lab, where they have remained ever since.
Other displays at Iowa State Capitol include a miniature version of the battleship USS Iowa-which stands proudly in the West Hall; on loan from the US Department of the Navy, and a collection of porcelain dolls. The dolls- which represent the 41 Iowa First Ladies- depict each in their inaugaral gowns and, as you might expect, the collection swells with as each future first lady takes their place in Iowa history. This collection is housed across from the governors office, in the South Hall.
Art is displayed on the walls throughout the Iowa State Capitol and, with a prime position around the rotunda, the world-famous quote from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address runs around the frieze above the columns, “This nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom that government of the people, by the people, shall not perish from the earth”.