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University of Iowa News Release

Release: Feb. 19, 2003

Old Capitol Dome To Be Raised Monday, Feb. 24

Following months of preparation, the University of Iowa will raise the Old Capitol dome and place it atop the Old Capitol building from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, weather permitting.

The new dome, about 18 feet wide and weighing some 12,000 pounds, replaces the original, destroyed in a $6 million fire on Nov. 20, 2001. The most visible part of the Old Capitol restoration project, the dome was gilded with about $8,000 worth of gold leaf on Feb. 14 by Conrad Schmitt Studios of New Berlin, Wis.

“It’s very hard to describe the anticipation I have for seeing the dome back in place,” says Shalla Wilson, assistant director of the Old Capitol Museum. “Having sunshine gleam off of the golden dome is very important to the university and the state. The Old Capitol was the state’s first capitol, and it belongs to all the people of Iowa. When people see the dome set, I’m sure many will sigh with relief.”

Gary Nagle, UI Facilities Services Group project manager, says that if high winds or heavy precipitation develop on Feb. 24, then the dome raising will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28. He adds that additional elements of the Old Capitol restoration project will continue throughout the year. Phase 1 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.

Earlier project milestones included transporting the dome from the site of its construction in Galena, Ill. to Iowa City on Jan. 6 and 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 on Dec. 30 along with the second level of timber framing.

Knutson Construction Services Inc. of Iowa City is the contractor for Phase 1 of the Old Capitol restoration project. 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: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,

NOTE TO EDITORS: Reporters, photographers and members of the general public are invited to photograph the historic raising of the Old Capitol dome from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24 on the University of Iowa Pentacrest.