Behind the scaffolding, restoration of the sandstone and metal entablature on the west wing of the Capitol is almost complete. Workers have started to remove the scaffolding on the north side of the west wing. Later in April, the scaffolding will migrate to the east wing of the building. The restoration of stone and the entablature on the west wing is a significant milestone for the project. The move of the scaffolding will reveal the repaired stone which will appear lighter in color. The repaired and replaced stone will weather over time to match the rest of the building.
Sandstone restoration efforts
On the exterior of the west wing, 195 stones have been replaced, and 336 stones have been repaired. To maintain the historic look of the building and stay cost–effective, the project is only replacing stone when necessary.
The Capitol's masonry is well over 125-years-old. And, while the masonry is generally sound, some stones are damaged and loose, requiring replacement and repair. All the stone has been evaluated for restoration or replacement based on life safety issues, water and longevity management and aesthetic considerations. This piece of loose stone in the photo above weighed about seven pounds and was at the top of one of the column's pilasters.
A rare photograph published in the July 2, 1897 issue of the Rawlins Republican showing the quarry near Rawlins where the sandstone for the Capitol restoration efforts was mined. The majority of the original stone used the Capitol was mined at this quarry in the late 1880s. Special thanks go to the current quarry owner the Anschutz Corporation which has allowed the State of Wyoming to harvest the stone for free. The article and photo are courtesy of the Wyoming Newspaper Project.
The repaired stone located on the north side of the west wing appears lighter in color. Above is the newly painted entablature.
Metal entablature repairs
Did you know that the upper part of the exterior of the Capitol is made of galvanized metal, not stone?
The upper entablature, cornice, pediments and parapet walls above the stone pilaster capitals consist of galvanized metal. As part of the Capitol restoration efforts, all the metal entablature is being removed and replaced with new sheet metal. The only external features that are being cleaned, repaired and returned are the historic decorative elements like the modillions and the pediments. Additionally, a new steel structure is being put in place to attach the entablature securely to the building. The entablature is being painted to match the sandstone.
Like the masonry, the metal entablature is over 125-years old and needs repair. When the entablature was studied, some of the conditions included bent or deformed metal profiles, cracks in the metal, poorly executed joints that have been sealed with sealant, missing ornament from the pediments, and peeling paint exposing the bare metal underneath. In some locations, corrosion is visible where paint has peeled, and in other areas there are open cracks in the metal, allowing water to infiltrate the building. In the photo to the right, notice the piece of wire securing it to the building.
Old meets new. Workers are almost finished with the repairs to the entablature on the north side of the west wing and will start moving scaffolding to the east wing. The top photo shows the unpainted entablature while the bottom photo shows the newly painted entablature.
Read and see more photos
The Wyoming Capitol Square Project centers on the rehabilitation and restoration of the Capitol, which is a National Historic Landmark. The project includes the rehabilitation and expansion of the adjacent Herschler Building, as well as rehabilitation and expansion of the tunnel that connects the buildings, and relocation and expansion of the central utility plant, serving five state buildings. This complex multi-year project will preserve the historic character of the Capitol, improve public access to the political process, and address needed life safety and building systems deficiencies. Visit www.wyomingcapitolsquare.com.