Capitol Snapshots
3:57 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

1938-1940: The History of Decorating The Arkansas Capitol For The Holidays

In 1938, the Arkansas Capitol was decorated for Christmas with colored lights. This proved so popular that in 1939 and 1940, the building was illuminated again.

For 1940, blue lights outlined the building, amber on the dome, and loudspeakers set up in the rotunda played Christmas music for staff and visitors.

Toy drives and collections benefited hospitalized children in the area, a cause near to the heart of Secretary of State Hall, who had contracted polio as a child.

A festive occasion was turned into a tradition, as Arkansans came to expect and look forward to the Capitol’s annual illumination.

For 1941, the Capitol was lit on December 10th. Secretary of State Crip Hall opted to go ahead and light the lights as usual, in spite of the brand-new state of war. He told a local paper that in such unusual times, the people of Arkansas needed to have a little reassuring normalness.

A larger-than-life-sized Nativity set covered the building’s east entrance, and loudspeakers carried seasonal music to residents of the nearby neighborhood.

A year later, the Capitol shone once more: colored floodlights lit the dome. The nativity scene, erected on the main steps, now featured non-traditional figures: a soldier, a sailor, a marine and a Red Cross nurse, who all stood watch over the effigies of the Holy Family.

Capitol Snapshots are presented on KUAR by Capitol Historian David Ware and the Secretary of State's Office.