LANSING, Mich. — Retired Lansing physician Jim McCoy spends his free time giving tours of Michigan's historic state Capitol.
McCoy is one of more than a dozen docents who volunteer their time to give these tours. He says the job is not an easy one.
“I met with a Capitol historian for maybe 30 hours walking through the building learning about the history and the architecture and so on," McCoy said. "And they gave me a pile of reading then they followed me around for a few tours and then they turned me loose.”
As part of the tour, Capitol visitors get to watch the legislature meet for a session, tour the nine-acre property that’s filled with beautiful art, and of course, a lot of Michigan history.
All tours are guided by the volunteer docents.
May Olyer is the Capitol docent coordinator and says people love to learn about the state's history.
“We're very grateful, and a lot of our docents are retired folks who worked in lots of different fields, some former state employees, former teachers, people from private, the private business world. And yeah, I think they come here because they want to give back a little bit. And I think I hope they enjoy it too," Olyer said. "Because this is it's a very beautiful building to spend your time in, and I think it's a fun opportunity to get to share that building with other people.”
McCoy says there is a common thread between all the Capitol docents. They all love history and this 144-year-old beautiful building that houses it.
“I enjoy interacting with the other docents, the other volunteers interacting with the staff here I get to meet quite a few of the state representatives and senators just briefly," McCoy said. "I get to know them a little bit. They really don't know me. I mean, I've met Gov. Snyder, Gov. Whitmer. I have learned more about how our government works. How things are going on.”
Over the course of a year, McCoy and the other docents see more than 100,000 visitors.
Olyer says some of the guests are extra special to McCoy.
"He's great with the kids. It's it was kind of has a lot of fun interacting with our school groups and always willing to kind of go the extra mile to help us out when we're busy and just to make sure that those kids have the best possible experience here at the Capitol," Olyer said.
And soon, there will be even more to see!
Next month, the Capitol's new Heritage Hall is scheduled to open. It’s a 40,000-square-foot underground facility that will be the new welcome entrance for visitors.
It will also include a movie room for informational films and displays about our state’s history.
We want to say thank you to Jim McCoy and all the Capitol docents for helping keep Michigan history alive and inspiring future generations to learn more about our beautiful state.
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