VIDEO: State Capitol building dome undergoes historical restoration
The first major restoration project done to the Michigan State Capitol building in 25 years is currently on time and within budget, according to Christman Company officials, the company in charge of the restorations.
The project, which began in April and is expected to wrap up in November, is operating under a $6.5 million budget that allows for a dome restoration which has never been done before.
According to the vice chairman of the Michigan Capitol Commission, John Truscott, who organized a never before done rooftop tour of the Capitol for the media on Tuesday, the Christman Company is restoring the dome at the top of the Capitol building with the goal of it looking just like it did when the Capitol was completed in 1878.
"We have the budget now, the tobacco-tax revenue pays for part of this, and we just think we owe it to the people to keep this building restored in as original condition as possible," Truscott said. "So if we’re doing it, we might as well do it right, and this time around that was our goal."
Truscott said the biggest challenge to making sure the project stays on schedule is the unpredictability of the weather.
"(In) bad weather, you can’t have guys out here on the scaffolding doing this stuff," Truscott said. "By the end of November we should have everything pretty well wrapping up and the building will be ready for winter."
Ron Staley, the senior vice-president with the Christman Company, said the building has held up very well since it was built, considering it is made of only two main materials — the lower portion being made of cast iron and the upper portion of sheet metal.
"Think of a car sitting outside for 100 and some years, and what it would look like," Staley said. "In Michigan, it would be covered with salt and it would be gone. This dome has held up very, very well."
Jon Brechtelsbauer, the project superintendent, said the building was in surprisingly good condition when they began construction, based on what they did 25 years ago. He said much of what is being done now are things they did not address, or things that were not an issue, at that time.
Brechtelsbauer said one of the problems that had to be addressed was the evidence of minor leaks in the roof that were essential to repair.
"I think that you would see a lot of water get in there," he said. "We’re doing a long-term intervention for the building and we’re making sure that we’re preserving Michigan’s history and everything that’s in this building."
Brechtelsbauer also said they are hoping for this restoration to be a 50-year fix and that the building will only need minor fixing during that time frame.