The State Capitol’s beautiful stained-glass skylights, which have been falling apart for years, are finally getting repaired at an estimated cost of $800,000.
“It’s a scary number,” admitted Eric Connery, facilities administrator for the office responsible for upkeep of the historic building.
The cost becomes more understandable when you consider the amount of work necessary to get these hundreds of glass panels fixed. The skylights sit five stories above the State Capitol’s lobby on either side of the building.
Simply getting to them required construction of two separate steel scaffolds from the lobby floor all the way up to a point where workmen can reach the glass to remove it.The 304 panels, originally installed when the golden-domed State Capitol was built in the 1870s, have to be carefully placed in wooden crates for shipment to a restoration expert.
There were also some associated expenses, such as the cost of building a big protective wooden box over and around the statue of Nathan Hale. The statue stand directly below one of the skylights and the scaffolding had to be built up around it.
The scaffolding is now being disassembled and will need to be rebuilt next summer when the repaired glass will be ready to be reinstalled.
Connery said the cost for this initial phase (scaffolding, removal of the glass panels, and shipment for restoration) is expected to cost $84,250. He said a consultant is now putting together specifications to go out to bid for actual restoration of the scores of glass panel.
Once that work is completed, the scaffolding will go back up and the glass panels are scheduled to be reinstalled next summer, Connery said.
The last time any work was done on the stained-glass skylights was in the 1970s and early 1980s, according to Connery, when a major restoration was done for the entire State Capitol building.
It was in 2008 that legislative officials first noticed that the multi-colored glass panels were beginning to fall apart. Nets were installed below each skylight to catch any falling glass or debris.
The State Capitol was built over an eight-year period and opened for the first time in 1879. At the time, the state spent more than $2.5 million on the construction. Today, the estimated replacement cost would be more than $200 million.