Friday, February 14, 2014

The State House in the Spotlight

As an active legislative building of great historical significance, the State House continues to play host to an extraordinary variety of exciting events. This weekend, both the Senate and House of Delegates will receive attention for two very different events.

In June of this past year, a film crew for Netflix’s award-winning series, House of Cards, transformed the House of Delegates chamber into the US Capitol’s Senate Chamber. Portraits of past speakers of the Maryland House were removed and fake marble was added to the chamber. This has been the first time the interior of the State House has been used as a film location since 2003 when it was used for the comedy, Head of State, starring Chris Rock.

Premiering on Netflix today, the second season of House of Cards continues to follow the political career of a scheming South Carolina congressman, played by Kevin Spacey. Many exterior scenes were filmed at locations throughout Maryland, and the State House is very excited to have been included as a significant film site.

Crew members spent a full day making temporary changes to the House of Delegates chamber so that it would resemble the nation's Senate Chamber. Image courtesy of the Capital Gazette, 17 June 2013, photographed by Joshua McKerrow.

However, the House of Delegates chamber will not be receiving all of the attention this weekend. Every President’s Day, the Maryland Senate holds a ceremonial session in honor of Washington’s birthday. Although the Senate typically holds this special session in the Old Senate Chamber, the ongoing restoration of the chamber will relocate this year’s ceremony to the Old House of Delegates Chamber. Each year, the Senate selects a special guest to provide remarks for the occasion, most frequently on some aspect of Washington’s character or leadership. Past speakers have included Governor Martin O’Malley, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, and State Archivist (now retired) Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse. This year, we are very honored to have Chris Haley, the director of the Legacy of Slavery project at the Maryland State Archives, as the speaker. To view the speeches of past speakers, please visit the State House website.

Governor Martin O'Malley speaking at last year's ceremony in the Old House of Delegates Chamber. Maryland State Archives, 18 February 2013.

Don’t forget to watch season two of House of Cards today to catch cameos from the State House! See if you can spot Edwin White’s Washington Resigning his Commission in the background of one of the shots!

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