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University of Iowa News Release

Release: Feb. 12, 2003

Old Capitol Dome To Become Golden Friday

The University of Iowa’s signature Old Capitol dome is scheduled to receive a Valentine’s Day gift on Friday, Feb. 14 when it is gilded with about $8,000 worth (more than one pound) of gold leaf.

The wooden dome, about 16-feet-wide, 10-feet-high and weighing some 12,000 pounds, currently is located at the Iowa City Airport, where workers are preparing its lead-coated, copper-clad surface for the application of the gold leaf. The new dome, a replacement for the original, destroyed in a $6 million fire on Nov. 20, 2001, was transported from the site of its construction in Galena, Ill. to Iowa City Jan. 6.

Earlier restoration milestones included hoisting the first level of oak timber framing, designed to support a 1,770-pound bell as well as the dome, atop the Old Capitol on Dec 9. The new bell, a replacement for the 1,100-pound bell ruined in the fire, was lifted atop the Old Capitol along with the second level of timber framing on Dec. 30.

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 involves a great deal of pride for all concerned. Renaissance Restoration Inc. of Galena, Ill. constructed the dome. OPN Architects, Inc. of Cedar Rapids and Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, Architecture & Engineering of Boston are the project’s architects.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Linda Kettner, 319-384-0030,

NOTE TO EDITORS: Reporters and photographers are invited to photograph the gold gilding of the Old Capitol Dome from 10-11 a.m., Friday, Feb. 14 in an aircraft hanger, just south of the terminal building at the Iowa City Airport.