BEST RENOVATION - 2000
A beer hall at the state capitol? Okay, you can't get a beer here, but the recently renovated subterranean cafeteria was originally designed with a rathskeller theme. The 1905 décor was painted over in 1917, amid a wave of anti-German sentiment during World War I. In 1930 some of the art was restored, albeit with temperate, Prohibition-era themes, only to be painted over again later. Today--after a $2 million, 18-month renovation that peeled off no fewer than 22 layers of paint--replicas of the original chain-and-white globe chandeliers hang from the high, vaulted ceilings. The flowery art on the walls is heavy on eagles and grapevines along with some 23 restored mottoes, many of which have a be-merry theme: One translates as "First do your duty, then drink and laugh." You can laugh all you want here, but there are no suds on the premises. As an old German drinking song might have put it, "At the capitol, there is no beer/That's why we go to the Kelly Inn."