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Capitol Dome Facelift Almost Complete

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DENVER (CBS4) – Crews continue to work on the renovation project at the Capitol. The observation deck is closed to the public while construction is going on.

Scaffolding has come down around the gold dome, but still remains on the lower parts of the building.

The $17 million project included restoring windows, paint and even the gold leaf on the outside of the dome. The Capitol was first built in 1894 and is fashioned after St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.

“What would surprise people the most about this building?” CBS4’s Gloria Neal asked Larry Friedberg, the State Architect.

“The fact that there are 2 domes in the Colorado State Capitol,” Friedberg responded.

The outer dome is the gilded dome that see from the outside of the building. It stills on top of the inner dome, which is what you see when you look up from the center of the inside of the building.

CBS4's Gloria Neal with State Architect Larry Friedberg in the lantern atop the State Capitol. (Credit CBS)

CBS4’s Gloria Neal with State Architect Larry Friedberg in the lantern atop the State Capitol. (Credit CBS)

Friedberg took Neal to the interstitial space between the domes.

“We’re looking at the City and County Building and the mountains beyond. And this window is within the gilded outer dome,” Friedberg explained.

Also, in that space that few people ever get to see, initials and dates from all the various construction crews that have worked on the dome over the years. The construction “graffiti” dates back to 1896.

Part of the renovation was salvaging and refurbishing the 24 karat gold covering the outer dome. The gold was mined here in Colorado and valued at more than $116,000.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)


“We replaced the copper by hand with a Colorado-based company and then we re-gilded all the copper itself,” Friedberg explained.

From the space between the domes, Neal and Friedberg climbed another set of stairs to get to the lantern at the top of the gold dome. It’s a tiny space surrounded by windows with breathtaking views of the entire city.

The lantern will never be opened to the general public, but the observation deck will be back open when construction is complete later this summer or early fall.

- Written for CBSDenver.com by Special Projects Producer Libby Smith

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