No Women In The Dome

That was the headline on a Christmas Day report in The Denver Evening Post on December 25, 1899. The “dome” was that of the new Colorado State Capitol building. The design provided space for 16 stained glass portraits of pioneer citizens. The challenging task of selecting the honorees fell to the Board of Capitol Managers.
          With seven pioneers chosen quickly, the Board met on November 23, 1899 to select the final nine from a list of 73 names. Only four women made the list: Helen Hunt Jackson, Patience Stapleton, Mrs. Ben Spencer, and Elizabeth Hiff Warren.
          A month later, the nine positions remained undecided. The Board scheduled another meeting on December 26th. The Evening Post suggested “the probabilities are that no women will be considered…” and offered a list of the twelve most likely male candidates.  
          Only one of the Post’s “likely male candidates” was chosen: Senator Casimiro Barela. 
          Despite the Post’s prediction, Mrs. Frances Wisebart Jacobs became THE woman in the dome. Her name, like a few others, did not appear on the original list. She was a leader in charitable support for “the poor, aged, hungry, homeless, and sick…”
          The Colorado State Capitol Virtual Tour offers a brief history of the rotunda with short biographies of the sixteen people honored in stained glass.

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