PROVIDENCE, RI – Fifth-graders from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Providence were treated to a backstage tour of the State House that included a private visit with Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
His office will take thousands of youngsters through the State House this year. The free tours are led by specially trained interns from Johnson & Wales University.
“It is important to preserve and discuss the history of our road to independence. This future generation of citizens must know our past in order to have the insight they will need to be tomorrow’s leaders of our state and our country,” said Mollis.
The tour included stops in the Bell Room, where Rhode Island’s replica of the Philadelphia Liberty Bell is displayed; the State Room, where Gilbert Stuart’s famous portrait of George Washington hangs; and the Rotunda, where visitors can gaze upward at one of the world’s largest unsupported domes.
The youngsters even got to peek at one of the state’s most historic documents – the Royal Charter of 1663. Granted by King Charles II, the charter guaranteed Rhode Island settlers freedom of religion and the freedom to govern their own colony.
“I think the kids were surprised to learn that Rhode Island may have inspired the Bill of Rights. I hope exposure to documents like this will inspire them to learn more and aspire to be better citizens,” said Mollis.
Built between 1895 and 1904, the State House has 327,000 cubic feet of white Georgia marble and 15 million bricks. The 5-story structure is home to the Governor, Lt. Governor, General Treasurer and the General Assembly as well as the Secretary of State.
The State House dome is the fourth largest, self-supported marble dome in the world. The inside of the dome features a panoramic mural called "The Four Freedoms" by Rhode Island artist James Allen King.
At night, the building glows beautifully from 109 floodlights, which help to make it visible to neighboring cities and towns.
Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier to vote, helping businesses grow and making government more open and accessible. For more information about touring the State House, visit sos.ri.gov.