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The term rotunda comes from the Italian language, and means round. While this
rotunda is square in shape, its purpose is the same as the round central spaces
found in many county courthouses – to inspire.
Gibbs designed Eaton County’s rotunda to draw your eye immediately upward to the
light streaming down from above. The great height of the ceiling and the light
that streams from it reminds us of the higher goals of civilization – to reach
our limitless potential that beckons from beyond.
One way to inspire Eaton County citizens to think about that potential was to
remind them visually of the ideals held by American society. The large walls of
the rotunda originally contained beautiful murals of four muses that celebrated
the accomplishments of industry, agriculture, science, and art. Americans tried
hard to ensure their continued prosperity, and they believed these four fields
to be vital for their success.
Muses are an ancient Greek tradition. The word muse means a guiding spirit, or a
source of inspiration. How appropriate, then, to place such inspirational
figures in such an inspirational space. While the original muses are no longer
here to remind us of our accomplishments and goals, the space in which they were
once located still draws our eyes upward, reminding us of our limitless dreams