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Stained Glass in State Capitol To Be Restored

PIERRE, S.D. – A project to restore the century-old stained glass in the state Capitol will begin on July 29.

The four large skylight installations in the Capitol rotunda dome, House and Senate chambers and above the grand marble staircase will be removed, restored and reinstalled during the next fourteen months.

A detailed condition assessment of the stained glass was completed in April. Significant problems were found as age, gravity and original material and design weaknesses have taken their toll since the stained glass was installed in 1909.

“The glass is bowing badly enough in spots that it could fail if it’s allowed to get much worse,” said Paul Kinsman, Commissioner of the state’s Bureau of Administration. “We’ve done spot repairs over decades and even those fixes are now failing.”

Each of the 199 large panels of stained glass will be removed, placed in a custom shipping frame and transported to Conrad Schmitt Studios just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There the panels will be disassembled. The glass pieces will be repaired and releaded, and the panels rebuilt.  New structural supports will be added to ensure even longer-term strength. 

The stained glass in the Rotunda dome will be the first to be removed. Portions of the second floor Rotunda will be closed to foot traffic during July and August. 

The House and Senate chamber stained glass will be removed following the conclusion of the 2014 Legislative Session. The barrel vault above the grand marble staircase will be the last to be removed in May, 2014.

The stained glass panels will return to the Capitol next year, with the Rotunda dome stained glass expected to return in June, 2014. The House and Senate chamber glass and the barrel vault above the grand staircase are scheduled to return in September, 2014.

Kinsman said the goal is to complete the project in time for the state’s 125th anniversary of statehood on November 2, 2014.

Funding for the $2.7 million project comes from the Bureau of Administration’s Maintenance and Repair fund. Conrad Schmitt Studios partnered with Sharpe Enterprises of Pierre to submit the winning proposal for the specialized project.

Conrad Schmitt Studios was founded in 1889 and is the largest firm of its kind in the nation.  Their past restoration projects include St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls, St. Mary Catholic Church in Salem, the Lawrence County Courthouse, state capitols in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame.

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