Capitol dome getting golden face lift

DENVER ­— Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 — Restoration of the State capitol dome has reached an important milestone behind the large white scrim that was erected around the entire structure roughly six months ago.  Brand new gold leaf is now being applied over the copper-clad dome. 

“The tremendous task of restoring the entire cast iron dome of this building started back in early 2012, and it continues to run on time and under budget,” said Executive Director of the Department of Personnel & Administration Kathy Nesbitt.

The overall project consists of much more than just re-gilding the gold dome.  The goal is to restore and repair damage to the exterior painted circular drum above the roof of the capitol that includes the famous dome, atop the century-old historic landmark.  The architectural structure and exterior detail was manufactured out of cast iron – not out of stone as many believe. 

Contractors are applying approximately 140,000, 3 1/8” x 3 1/8” gold leaves on top of copper plates that cover the dome.  The leaves are rolled out of 24-karat gold to between 1/8,000 and 1/10,000 inch thick.  More than 1,000 leaves are created out of less than an ounce of gold.  Contractors estimate it will take about 60 ounces of gold to cover the entire dome.

Craftsmen have been applying gold that was donated to the State by AngloGold Ashanti that was mined from Colorado’s Victor and Cripple Creek region.

“This is only the fourth time the dome has been re-gilded in the capitol’s history,” said State Architect Larry Friedberg.  The dome was originally covered in gold in 1903, first re-gilded in 1950, again in 1980 and 1991.  This re-gilding process is expected to last through the month of November; once completed the scrim surrounding the dome will be unwrapped and the scaffolding slowly removed. 

More than a century of water infiltration coupled with Colorado’s freeze/thaw cycle has caused extreme rusting and deterioration of the metal surfaces on the exterior of the cast iron tower and dome.  Weather had dented and damaged some of the copper plates on the dome to the point light passed through some areas on the structure.  Not easily visible from the ground, the damage includes some of the architectural details and the fasteners that hold them in place.  Hundreds of pieces of the assembly have been affected by the weather over the dome’s history.

Friedberg anticipates the upper scaffold and screen masking the dome will be removed by spring of 2014 (weather permitting), the remaining repairs to the drum above the building then will be finalized, and the completion of the project is expected in late summer of 2014.

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For more information, contact:
Doug Platt, Communications Manager
O 303-866-6095  |  C 303-503-9939


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