The Ohio Capitol Atrium was completed in 1993 as a connector between the Statehouse and the Senate Building. Once merely an open space that was used as a walkway, the Atrium now serves as a convenient gathering place for press conferences, special events and even wedding receptions. The Atrium now provides visitors and employees with much needed shelter from the rain, snow, sun and humidity.
Great care was taken to ensure that the Atrium was secondary, yet complimentary, to the Statehouse and the Senate Building. In fact, the Atrium is a self-supporting structure, touching the other buildings only at the roofline, along the walls and where the second-story walkways enter the buildings. The limestone used in all three buildings came from the same vein of stone in western Columbus.
This site also has been host to its share of historical events. In 1859, Abraham Lincoln spoke to a small group of Ohioans from the east terrace of the Statehouse (now the Atrium). His visit to Ohio took place one year after the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. A plaque commemorates his visit.
Before the Atrium was constructed, this space was home to a number of pigeons, which congregated in the area. Perched atop the roofs and ledges, the pigeons made crossing to and from buildings an interesting challenge. Since then, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has created a habitat for peregrine falcons across the street. These falcons have had a profound effect on the pigeon's manners. Today, only a replica pigeon oversees the interior of the Atrium.
Pete the Pigeon
Though the cardinal has enjoyed its status as the official state bird since 1933, the Statehouse is home to another notable avian-Ohioan. Quietly, Pete the Pigeon is perched above the west entrance door to the Senate Building. From his perch Pete greets visitors and legislators entering from the Atrium.
Prior to the renovation of Capitol Square, people had to brave wind, rain, and pigeons as they crossed back and forth between the Statehouse and the Senate Building. This open-air area between the two buildings became known as "Pigeon Run" due to the number of pigeons that congregated. In 1993, the space between the two buildings was enclosed to create the Capitol Atrium, a stunning gathering place used for special events. All the pigeons have moved on now, except for Pete.