CHEYENNE—With its corinthian columns, massive sandstone walls and 24-karat gold leaf dome, the Wyoming Capitol rises from the plains of Cheyenne. 

That stature — and a history dating back to 1888 — can astonish onlookers. At the same time, it can intimidate folks walking through the front doors of “The People’s House” for the first time. Breaking down that barrier is part of Wendy Madsen’s job with the Legislative Service Office. 

“Part of the vision is that you should come here and you should feel like you belong,” Madsen said. “And if you want to go testify in front of a committee, or you want to speak to a legislator or see an elected official, you don’t feel like you’ve come somewhere that you’re not a part of.”

That welcoming aspect accompanied the building’s recent comprehensive renovation. The project, which was completed in 2019, included restoring original features such as the Supreme Court chamber where the Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Act was passed in 1869.  

Efforts are now concentrated on making the interior of the building more comfortable for visitors, Madsen said, so they feel encouraged to spend time in the building. That includes adding chess and checkers tables in the Capitol Extension and more seating just outside the Senate and House chambers. 

“It’s different to sit down and visit with a legislator,” Madsen said. “And if it’s less intimidating to you, then you might want to be more part of the process.”

Next up, Madsen said, is more signage and an exhibit plan meant to enhance visitors’ understanding of how and where lawmaking happens at the Capitol — and to prevent them from getting lost. 

Maggie Mullen reports on state government and politics. Before joining WyoFile in 2022, she spent five years at Wyoming Public Radio.

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