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NOTE TO EDITORS: Photographers may wish to photograph the dome, scheduled to depart Galena, Ill. (520 S. West St.) at about 6:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 6. It will travel west along Hwy. 20 to Dubuque, then south along Hwy. 151 to Hwy. 13, continue south on Hwy. 13, then west on Hwy. 30 to I-380 and south to Iowa City.

Release: Dec. 31, 2002

Old Capitol dome set for 115-mile trek on Jan. 6

If local residents along a 115-mile route between Galena, Ill. and Iowa City look out their windows on the morning of Monday, Jan. 6, they may think they've been magically transported to the University of Iowa's historic Old Capitol.

That's because they'll see a part of the building -- the signature Old Capitol dome, about 18 feet wide in its protective wrapping and some 12,000 pounds in weight -- strapped to a flatbed truck moving past their front yards. The new dome, constructed by Renaissance Restoration Inc. of Galena, Ill. replaces the original, destroyed in a $5.6 million fire on Nov. 20, 2001. An important part of the Old Capitol restoration project, the dome will be gold-plated and placed atop the Old Capitol building in early 2003.

In the meantime, workers are busy preparing the base for the new dome. The first level of oak timber framing -- designed to support a 1,770-pound bell -- was hoisted into place atop the Old Capitol on Dec 9. The bell itself, a replacement for the 1,100-pound bell damaged beyond repair in the fire, was lifted atop the Old Capitol on Dec. 30 along with the second level of timber framing.

For more than 150 years, the old bell tolled the beginning and end of classes with16 strikes some 20 times each day. The new bell is a "sister" to the old bell and was cast sometime between 1860 and 1890 at the same West Troy, N.Y. foundry that produced the old bell in 1864. The replacement was fitted with an automatic ringing system, as well as cleaned, polished and inscribed by the Verdin Co. of Cincinnati, at a cost of about $18,000.

Knutson Construction Services Inc. of Iowa City is the contractor for Phase 1 of the Old Capitol restoration project, which involves restoring the dome, cupola and bell tower and replacing the roof by the end of spring 2003. Phase 2 includes the reconstruction of fire-damaged interior areas and the upgrade of building infrastructure, including fire alarms and sprinklers, electrical and lighting systems, and the elevator. Phases 3 and 4 involve non-fire-related improvements to the building's exterior, such as the west portico and exterior masonry, and landscaping.

Gary Nagle, UI Facilities Services Group project manager, says that the Old Capitol restoration project remains on schedule. He notes that the project is time-consuming because it involves replicating a destroyed dome, cupola and bell tower for which no detailed blueprints previously existed. Much of the work done during 2002 involved the drawing of blueprints by two architectural firms selected to restore the Old Capitol Museum -- OPN Architects, Inc. of Cedar Rapids assisted by Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, Architecture & Engineering of Boston. The university has filed a $5.6 million claim with insurer Factory Mutual Insurance Co. and requested a $3 million cash advance from the company.