Repair work to begin on Pennsylvania Capitol dome

August 11, 2008 2:03:23 PM PDT
Work is expected to begin this week to fix leaks in the Pennsylvania Capitol's 102-year-old dome.

The leaks have soaked the interior brick walls along the dome's lower section, leaving white salt deposits behind. They have also damaged a plaster wall near one of the rotunda's murals.

The $6 million project, which could take as long as a year, will involve a team of conservators and structural engineers who have worked on historical buildings.

The team will need to approach its task carefully to prevent any architectural damage, said Cornelius Rusnov, a project coordinator supervising the repairs for the Department of General Services.

"This is what you consider to be a 100-year fix, or one that lasts as long as we can make it," Rusnov said in Monday's editions of The Patriot-News of Harrisburg.

The 272-foot high, 52 million-pound dome, inspired by the one atop St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, consists of two layers. The exterior is covered with limestone, granite and green tiles, while the inner dome forms the rotunda ceiling. The dome has a red brick substructure and is supported by steel trusses.

Leaks have been a problem for decades. Previous dome repairs have included waterproofing and replacement of broken tiles and windows during Gov. Tom Ridge's administration from 1995 to 2003.

But officials decided additional work was needed when they began to notice flaking plaster last winter, said Ruthann Hubbert-Kemper, director of the Capitol Preservation Committee.

"We're all concerned about protecting the building," Hubbert-Kemper said Monday.

Dome maintenance is a constant concern because temperature fluctuations can affect the masonry, she said.

The work also will include installing more energy-efficient lighting to illuminate some of the dome's windows and repairing exterior lights that were damaged by an ice storm, Rusnov said.

Separately, the preservation committee is completing a $153,595 project to restore the dome's 16 stained-glass windows, Hubbert-Kemper said.

---
Information from: The Patriot-News, http://www.pennlive.com/patriotnews

Click here to get the latest Philadelphia news and headlines from across the Delaware and Lehigh valleys.


Load Comments