Gilders rappel from Capitol dome, put final touches on restoration project

If you glanced up at the Colorado State Capitol this week, you might have seen expert gilders rappelling from the lantern atop the historic structure to complete a final touch-up on the iconic gold-leafed dome. Contractors have almost completed the final touches of the nearly three year long, $17 million dome restoration project.

State workers put the finishing touches on the 8-year restoration project of the state Capitol dome on Aug. 13. The original gold first used to gild the former copper structure came from Colorado’s Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co. It was shipped to Florence, Italy, where it was turned into 65-ounce sheets of gold leaf donated to the state by AngloGold Ashanti. A lightning rod will placed atop the iconic dome before the project is completed. A re-opening and dedication ceremony for the dome has been scheduled for Oct. 2.

A certified technician rappelled by rope from the lantern windows at the top of the 270-foot high dome to predetermined locations. While the scaffolding was being disassembled, state government staff and contractors identified specific locations where the gold leaf required touch-up from things like scaffolding contact while it was in place. “As with any construction project, we have a final punch list of items that need to be addressed before the work is accepted and the project is closed out,” said State Architect Larry Friedberg.

Final touch-ups like the gilding atop the 270-foot high dome of the state Capitol were finished this week as part of the restoration process after the dome’s outdoor observation deck was closed for safety reasons eight years ago. The gold dome has been regilded three times in the past but this is the first time it has had a complete makeover.
Photos provided from video footage by the Colorado Executive Director’s Office

Final touch-ups like the gilding, as well as paint touch-up, caulking, cleaning and other routine finish work must be completed to the state’s satisfaction before it will accept the job. The gold leaf touch-up was finished by the end of the week.

“It is pretty dramatic to watch someone rappel down from the top of the dome,” said Kathy Nesbitt, executive director of the Department of Personnel & Administration. “We are very proud of the attention being paid to these little details, and as a result, we expect this restoration to last a long time.”

DPA and a project team from the Colorado General Assembly, History Colorado and other state and private partners also announced that the official re-opening and dedication of the dome will be on Oct. 2, 2014, at which time visitors will be allowed access to the observation area atop the dome. It has been roughly eight years since the dome’s outdoor observation deck was closed for safety reasons after a piece of cast iron fell from the ceiling above the interior of the deck.

One of the gilder’s helmets was equipped with a Go-Pro camera to capture video footage of the touch-up process and the view from the exterior of the dome.