There are six large and unique portraits displayed in the Senate Chamber. An early published tour of the Capitol Building in 1879 states that, "In the Senate, at the right of the President's chair, is a full-length portrait of the immortal Lafayette . . . At the left is a full-length portrait of Michigan's '[Civil] War Governor', Austin Blair; painted by our Michigan artist, Prof. Alvah Bradish." These two portraits are now hanging in the same location as they were when the Capitol was dedicated in 1879.
One of the primary reasons these two paintings have such prominent positions in the Chamber is that the memories of the Civil War were fresh in 1879. This war had a tremendous impact on the citizens of Michigan and a place of honor was given to these two famous war heroes, one state and one national.
At the back of the Senate Chamber, the portraits of Governor Henry A. Crapo and Russell A. Alger are located on the northeast wall. The portraits of Governor Lewis Cass and State Senator Eva M. Hamilton are located on the northwest wall.
All of these individuals were featured in portraits that hung in the Senate Chamber prior to the restoration in 1989. All of them, except Hamilton, are earlier period portraits with a long history in the Chamber. They were painted before the Capitol Building was built or when it was still very young. Much effort was exerted in conserving these historic works and their ornate frames. While all of the frames are very valuable, the Detroit Institute of Arts said the frame for the Alger portrait is as valuable as the portrait itself. These elaborately framed works of art enhance the restored Chamber as they are monuments to Michigan's history.