When I visited Concord, NH a few weeks ago to attend the tax summit, I got a chance to visit our state capital for the first time. Living in the seacoast, I don't make the trip over to Concord very often. I've been to the LL Bean Outlet, Company C, and even a few of the shops on Main Street. But I'd never been inside the State House.
The tax summit was actually held in the Legislative Office Building, but since there were several breaks over the course of the two day summit, I had plenty of time to wander around to the other government buildings.
Wandering the halls of the State House
Once I got past the State House entrance hall (called the Hall of Flags), walking through the interior hallways and past the offices of the grand old building reminded me of the classrooms at my old college. The NH State House was originally built in 1819 and apparently is the oldest state house in the country that still houses the legislature in their original chambers.
The Senate Chamber (above) is located in the northeast corner of the State House on the second floor.
After checking out the normal visitor photo spots throughout the State House, I ventured into some areas that are probably less traveled by visitors. In particular, I headed down into the basement to the cafeteria.
Since I had some time before the next summit meeting session, I decided to hang out in the cafeteria and take advantage of the free public wifi provided throughout the State House. The food in the cafeteria was reasonably priced, and I could enjoy it while catching up on my email and the news of the day.
The cafeteria is a bit on the austere side as you can see from the photo above. There were no fancy sinks or marble countertops here. Still, it proved to be a great spot to rest and re-group before heading to the afternoon tax summit sessions.
As an added bonus, I saw a few well-known elected officials taking their lunch breaks. I wonder if any other state governments offer their citizens the opportunity to share a brown-bag lunch with their legislators in a basement cafeteria?
Wandering around out of the cafeteria, I discovered a "secret" underground passageway that leads back to the Legislative Office Building (LOB). It was great to be able to stealthily move between the State House and the LOB without having to face the protesting mob above - ok, there were only 20 or so tax-protesters and they seemed pretty well behaved.
I think there's another tunnel to the annex building that's across Capital Street, but I didn't check that one out.
Legislative Office Building (Old Post Office), Concord, NH
Once through the tunnel, I arrived in the basement of the Legislative Office Building, which was built in around 1875 as a post office. At one time, the building was used to house the US District Court. Today, it provides meeting space and offices for several legislative committees.
Entrance hall of Legislative Office Building
Overall, I found the NH State House and associated buildings very approachable for visitors. I double-checked to make sure I could take photos and then wandered around freely looking for good shots.
At one point, a NH State Trooper approached me to ask if I needed directions. It was right after I finished taking the tunnel photos and I'm pretty sure I may have been caught on video looking suspicious (I mounted my camera on a monopod to get the shot without a flash). Anyhow, the officer was very friendly and when I explained that I was taking pictures for my blog, he wished me luck and headed on his way.
So if you haven't visited "your" state capital yet, I highly recommend it. When you go, be sure to check out the secret tunnels and the free wifi in the basement cafeteria.