Excavation for the Montana Capitol began in 1896. In 1898, the architectural firm of Bell & Kent was chosen to design the building, which was dedicated on July 4, 1902. The construction of the Capitol was fraught with political corruption, including kickbacks and substitution of inferior materials. There have been several expansions and renovations over the years, including the highly-praised 1995-2000 interior restoration.
Capitol Area - Art in the Public Eye
Montana: The figure that crowns the Capitol dome is a personification of liberty armed with a torch and shield to light the way and protect the populace. The statue is made of copper and iron, and is 144? high. It was placed atop the capitol dome since early December 1900. The statue was ordered by the state’s first capital commission, which was disbanded in 1897 amidst allegations of corruption and fraud.
Since the original commission destroyed all of its records when the scandal erupted, little was known about Montana’s origins until 2006 when MHS was contacted by the artist's granddaughter, Alice Nagle, who was able to supply documentation on her grandfather and his role as the creator of this piece. Now Edward Van Landeghem (1865-1955), Belgian born artist who immigrated to the United States in 1899, settling in Pennsylvania can receive credit for sculpting this beautiful piece.
Source: Capitol Complex Exterior Memorial and Sculpture Inventory #1
Montana State Capitol Complex