Crumbling Capitol | Arkansas Blog

Crumbling Capitol

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A 200-pound chunk of limestone (left) fell off the west side of the Capitol last Saturday, leaving a damaged pilaster (right). No one was hurt. Secretary of State Charlie Daniels has issued a news release, on the jump, assuring us that the public, legislators and lobbyists will be protected while the pilaster is repaired.  Now he tells us.

Oh, and by the way, it's not his fault if the legislature wouldn't provide the money he requested to keep the place from falling apart.

DANIELS NEWS RELEASE

Secretary Daniels recently ordered an in-depth inspection of the State Capitol building’s limestone exterior to ensure that there are no imminent public safety hazards following an incident in which a 200 pound chunk of limestone pilaster fell off of the building’s west side.

Today crews visually assessed the vulnerable areas and found no imminent danger.  The cause of the stone’s deterioration and the recommended best fix are still being determined.

The chunk fell 32 feet from one of the Capitol’s pilasters last Saturday, landing on the roof of the building’s basement.  Safety cones will surround the area during inspection and repair.

Secretary Daniels recently announced the beginning of a $1.2 million project to restore and repair the limestone exterior of that area of the Capitol.   The project is part of an ongoing, phased implementation of preservation work funded by grants.  The scope of this grant may not cover additional repair work needed for the damaged pilaster.

“In my tenure as Secretary of State, I have worked diligently to preserve and restore the Capitol building with limited funds,” said Secretary Daniels.  “While we have been able to complete restoration on the building’s most damaged north exterior and the dome, this latest incident is proof that additional work to restore our Capitol is desperately needed.”

Since 2003, the Secretary of State’s office has requested over $10 million in general improvement funds to repair and restore the Capitol building.  The requests were approved, but no funds were available.  As a result, the Capitol’s restoration projects have been tied to limited grant funding from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council.  Secretary Daniels will again request general improvement dollars for additional needed repairs to the building in the next legislative session.  

 The State Capitol building took 16 years to construct, with work completed in 1915.  As the historic landmark nears its centennial birthday, Secretary Daniels hopes to finish much of the major repair work to the exterior limestone with available grant funds and appropriations from the state legislature.  Preventative maintenance will be a key factor in preserving and protecting the building for generations to come. 

 “An investment in restoration and repair of this building is one we cannot afford to ignore,” said Secretary Daniels.  “I want the State Capitol to look just as magnificent 50 years from now as it did over 90 years ago when it was gleaming and new.  Its significance and symbolism is timeless.”

 

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