A ‘Capitol’ Investment

A century is a long time, and we take in stride the knowledge that, after 100 years, things require special attention. We rightly recognize Missourians who celebrate 100 years of life and wonder at the changes they’ve observed over the course of their lives. The Missouri State Capitol has now hit the century mark, and if it could talk, it too could tell some fascinating stories. 

While the capitol has been well maintained throughout its life, a great deal of maintenance has also been deferred. Today, much of the capitol building is encased as the exterior receives a long overdue makeover. The effects of time and weather have taken a toll, despite the strength of the building, and these wise and targeted investments will ensure that this beautiful building is around for another 100 years. 

Governor Parson and his administration, the Missouri General Assembly, and the Missouri Capitol Commission, under the leadership of Dana Rademan Miller, have worked in cooperation to restore, repair, and at times re-create the outside of the capitol building to make it safe, durable, and reminiscent of its original appearance. 

In 2014, $40 million was appropriated by the state legislature for the State Capitol Project.

The first phase of this project entailed replacing the original lead liner designed to keep water out of the building.  Over time, this liner had deteriorated to such an extent that water inundated office and storage spaces in the building’s basement. The damp conditions that the leaking liner produced also made preserving historical art and artifacts nearly impossible. Fortunately, with the completion of this phase, the rivers of water inside the building that accompanied each rain are no more.

The current phase finishes the watertight integrity of the building and restores the exterior. Work began last spring literally overnight. On March 1 of 2018, one could still drive all the way around the capitol. On March 2, the south drive was closed and the south lawn became ground zero for exterior restoration efforts.

These ongoing efforts are the reason the capitol looks a bit like an alien version of itself today.

Underneath the exterior wrap is a labyrinth of scaffolding and lighting that allows the contractor, Bulley & Andrews Masonry, to work in all weather conditions to meet the December 2020 deadline for completion.

In addition to the plastic wrap, the absence of Ceres from atop the dome is a dramatic exterior change. With great fanfare, and in a manner consistent with how she was originally hoisted atop the building in 1924, Ceres was removed on November 15, 2018, for a facelift and about a year of well-deserved rest before she once again resumes her post. 

Outside of the capitol building itself,  the North Plaza was renovated and reopened in late 2018. Always a beautiful and popular setting, the pavers and walls of the north plaza had reached a point where they were a hazard to visitors and certainly did not reflect the standard Missourians and visitors rightfully expect of the seat of government.  

I am grateful the capitol is being preserved and look forward to seeing it unwrapped. I am thankful for the work of Governor Parson, Commissioner Sarah Steelman, the Capitol Commission, the General Assembly, and the men and women restoring the building so that it may represent our great state for the next 100 years.