Oklahoma Capitol restoration marks exterior work milestone
June 1, 2017
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Restoration of Oklahoma's century-old state Capitol reached a milestone Wednesday as workers dismantled scaffolding from the first portion of the building's stone facade to undergo extensive repair and cleaning.
The Capitol's northwest corner sparkled in the warm spring sunshine as officials of JE Dunn Construction unveiled the result of their efforts to restore the building's original cast iron windows, Indiana limestone facade and Oklahoma pink granite base.
The building's fresh, new look is "the result of thousands of hours of painstaking labor by some of the finest trades people in the country," said Preston Doerflinger, Gov. Mary Fallin secretary of finance and director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.
"The result is a water-tight exterior that will serve the historic building for years to come," Doerflinger said.
The work is the first completed phase of a $245 million effort to repair, renovate and update the state Capitol inside and out. Scaffolding was erected along the building's northwestern and northern walls last summer and the $52 million exterior renovation project is expected to continue until early 2019.
The detailed work on the Capitol's 200,000-square-foot stone facade has involved repairing or replacing 64 damaged limestone blocks, replacing worn mortar joints, repairing the building's antiquated guttering system and renovating dozens of windows with new glass.
"They look as good as the day they were installed a century ago," Doerflinger said.
Scaffolding removed from the building's northwestern corner will be erected on the building's southeastern side as the renovation project continues, said Mark Maska, project superintendent for JE Dunn Construction.
Manhattan Construction is in charge of renovating the interior of the 452,000-square-foot Capitol. That work is expected to continue until 2022.
Construction of the state Capitol was launched on July 20, 1914, when Oklahoma's second governor, Lee Cruce, used a pick axe to break ground during a ceremony that historical photos show was attended by hundreds of people, some of whom traveled to the site in horse-drawn carriages.
The reinforced-concrete building was occupied in June, 1917 just two months after the United States declared war on Germany and entered World War I. A $21 million dome was completed in 2002 — 85 years after original plans for a Capitol dome were shelved due to a lack of money and steel during the war.
Since 2011, barricades have cordoned off the south side of the Capitol to prevent visitors from climbing the steps leading to the south portico after chunks of mortar and pieces of limestone began falling from the building's facade.