Heritage Chapel Door
Heritage Chapel Interior
Florida is only one of a few statehouses that have a chapel. Initially this was going to be part of the Sectary of State's office. Instead, a special commission was setup to convert this area into the chapel, by way of special donations. Upon completion in 1980, the chapel was officially dedicated as a mediation room. Unlike the rest of the building, which uses the Italian marble in the public areas, the materials in here are from the state of Florida. The walls are made of coquina cast from the beaches between Jacksonville and St. Augustine. The ceiling and entryway walls are made of tidewater cypress. The wood used had been submerged in the Apalachicola River for over fifty years before reclamation. Both the font and the table are made of keystone from a quarry down in Florida City. The painting on the back wall is called "Creation" and was done by Florida artist Jean Welsh. The painting symbolizes "the mystery of ordering ourselves, through God, out of the chaos of a natural world." The painting was set up to be viewed in conjunction with the door. The balls embedded in the door are made up of glass that has washed onto Florida's shores over the years. In addition, the plaques that align the walls trace Florida's religious heritage from the prehistoric Indians to the present day. The Chapel is available for weddings and baptisms. If a valuable item comes in to be displayed, it can be locked behind the interior brass gates and left for the general public to view.
A Curious Plaque
From Senate Bill 678 (passed May 29, 1978) - Section 5. A plaque shall be placed in the lobby of the new capitol and shall be inscribed as follows: "This plaque is dedicated to Senator Lee Weissenborn whose valiant effort to move the Capitol to Orlando was the prime motivation for the construction of this building." This curious plaque is the result of the conflicts over the Old Capitol restoration. Senator Jack Gordon of Miami Beach added the above section to the bill. The House members supporting the restoration did not eliminate this section. They did not want to send back to the Senate and have it die; so the bill passed. Former Senator Kenneth Plante at the request of Senator Gordon provided the plaque. The plaque was affixed to the north center wall of the Plaza Level in 1982.
Artist James Rosenquist created the two "Images of the Sunshine State" murals in 1978. The murals represent the various recreation and industries in Florida. The left mural uses the cosmic background to symbolize space travel and the Kennedy Space Center. The scuba diver and woman in the pool represent Florida's "aquatic fun in the sun" activities. The pine tree above the Great Seal represents north Florida's lumber, pulp and paper industries. In the lower right corner is the palmetto scrub, a ubiquitous Florida bush.
Florida Welcome Center
The official Florida Welcome Centers are designed to provide visitors with a vast assortment of information incorporating general and specific material on travel, highways, sports, climate, resort areas, cities, outdoor recreation, attractions and other data. To help accomplish this, brochure space has been provided at each center for chamber of commerce, resort areas, attractions, festivals, and other tourism entities to publicize and promote their respective areas. More than 200 million maps and brochures have been distributed at Florida's official Welcome Centers since 1949. The official Florida Welcome Centers have had a long history, extending back to the opening in 1949 of the U.S. Highway 17 Yulee Welcome Center. Florida was one of the first states to establish highway welcome centers. The Welcome Center at the Capitol was opened in 1972 in the Old Capitol and moved to the New Capitol in 1976. It is located on the west side of the Plaza Level of the Capitol. Since 1949, the official Welcome Centers have welcomed more 80 million visitors to the state of Florida. The Capitol Welcome Center is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For hours and tour schedule on weekend and holidays, please inquire at (850) 488-6167. Please note that on weekends and state holidays that the New Capitol is closed; it is the Welcome Center that is open. Visitors are required to remain in the Welcome Center unless being escorted by Welcome Center personnel. Weekday (non-state holidays) guided tours are available for large groups; please contact the Welcome Center for availability. Self-guided tours are available. Bookings for guided tours during the months of March, April, and May, should be made several months in advance.
Cason Memorial Stairwell
Owen "Casey" Cason served as a law enforcement officer for the State of Florida for 52 years. He regularly jogged Stairwell no. 9 for exercise. After his death in 1992, Gov. Chiles and the Cabinet declared Stairwell no. 9 would be henceforth known as Captain Owen "Casey" Cason Memorial Stairwell.