of the State Capitol
The five-story State Capitol building has many carvings created by skilled craftsmen that include gargoyles and Celtic and Scottish symbols. But there is one carving that stands out. This horrific carving is said to have put a curse on the entire Capitol. Its maker is unknown, but the stonework image is said to be that of the devil’s head. And some believe that the curse explains some of the happenings throughout the years. One such happening is the 1911 fire at the Capitol building.
March 29, 1911 at 2:42am a fire broke out on the third floor of the Assembly Library and quickly spread to the fourth and fifth floors. Inside 78-year-old watchman, Samuel J. Abbott tried frantically to put out the fire while firefighters with their horse-drawn pumps tried to extinguish it from outside. According to Senator Young’s website “The fury of the fire was so powerful it twisted metal framing in the iconic skylight above the Great Western Staircase, sending the glass panels raining down on the stairs below. The stairway’s carved sandstone filigree melted, and the top of the Million Dollar Staircase was consumed by flames. Rather than seeking safety this decorated Civil War hero searched the building to ensure no one was trapped in this inferno.
Thanks to his efforts he was the sole fatality. His body was found two days later in a narrow passageway on the fourth floor adjacent to Senator Young’s office, “his silver-handled cane just a short distance away. In his pocket remained a key to a locked door just a few paces further through which he might have escaped. The dedicated night watchman who guarded the State Library is said to still roam the Capitol making rounds and keeping the building safe.”
Interestingly enough it is said that although this fire was so intense that melted metal and engulfed the city with smoke, the sacred Iroquois collection was untouched. So, if you see lights turn on and off in the middle of the night at the State Office Building it might just be watchman Samuel Abbott making his rounds and ensuring that everything is ok.