Capitol makeover begins in Lansing

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

The Capitol Building in Lansing is undergoing millions of dollars worth of renovations that will include a repainted dome, restored sandstone and a thorough washing.

"This is the first major work that will be undertaken on the exterior of the Capitol since the 1988 to 1992 restoration," facilities director Dan Brocklehurst said Friday of the $6.4 million project. "Weather and time are enemies of our Capitol exterior."

Crews last week began to erect scaffolding around the dome, a process that will take about a month to complete, Brocklehurst said. Then repairs will begin on a number of large gashes and gouges to the dome's sheet metal surface.

"We have a lot of issues with the current status and appearance of the dome," he said. "There's a lot of corrosion ... and we have missing and loose fasteners."

Missing decorative pieces also will be replaced, Brocklehurst said.

High up in the Lansing skyline, workers Thursday erect scaffolding as part of a multi-million dollar renovation of the Capitol dome.

"There is quite a bit of decorative metal that has been knocked off (or) fallen off," he said. "The dome is so highly decorative and to have the missing pieces, we just have an incomplete appearance."

Workers also will replace broken or missing modillions, which are ornamental blocks, Brocklehurst said.

"These are around the perimeter of the dome, but they're also around the perimeter of the building," he said.

The dome work is scheduled to progress through the summer and should finish in August with a new paint job, Brocklehurst said. The dome will be repainted to match its current color.

Meanwhile, work on the rest of the building will include restoration to the sandstone façade, Brocklehurst said.

Thousands of feet of deteriorated mortar joints will be mechanically removed, while missing modillions will be replaced like those from the dome, he said.

At the building's east entry, the bottom six feet of four main columns will get some restoration work as well.

"It's not like we're going to cut out the bottom six feet," Brocklehurst said. "We're removing probably three to four inches in depth into the column and then these new pieces will be inserted in place."

A number of spots need work due to discoloration caused by a substance used to deter pigeons, Brocklehurst said.

"Years ago, a gooey chemical substance was applied to the flat surfaces of the building in order to deter pigeons from landing on those spots," he said. "But that proved to be damaging because it seeped into the porous sandstone and then attracted pollutants."

The $6.4 million project is scheduled to progress through the summer and should finish in August with a fresh coat of paint.

As work on the façade wraps up toward the end of September, the building will be washed, Brocklehurst said.

Several companies have been contracted to work on the project, Brocklehurst said.

Murray Painting will take care of the dome's paint job, while Custom Architectural Sheetmetal Specialists will repair the damage.

Schiffer Masonry will work on the building's sandstone restoration and the Christman Company will manage construction, Brocklehurst said.

Visitors to the Capitol Building may find some entrances blocked during construction, Brocklehurst said.

"We will always have two points of entry into the building at all times," he said. "We are starting at the southwest corner of the building and working clockwise until we are completed."

Brocklehurst said $3 million of the project's $6.4 million budget comes from the Department of Technology, Management and Budget while the rest stems from tobacco settlement funds.

An earlier version of this story contained reporting from the Michigan Information & Research Service, which earlier reported on the Capitol building renovation project.

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