Beginning this week, the Wyoming Capitol dome in Cheyenne will be covered up until mid-2019 while workers do renovation work as part of the huge Capitol Square Project.
The dome scaffolding will start to be installed the week of September 11.The scaffolding installation will take between eight and ten weeks and will cover the dome and the drum (the area just below the dome).Once the scaffolding installation is complete, the scaffolding will be covered with a white covering to help facilitate the repairs and improve safety.
The area that will be covered consists of the gold-leafed dome,lantern, drum, and base.Hands-on investigations of the entire structure have documented punctures, tears, dents, failed seams, corrosion, paint coating failure, significant water leakage, and many missing and loose elements.
The damage is mainly from hail and 129 years of routine weather deterioration.Without the repairs, the life expectancy of the dome is estimatted to be only about 15 years.
Hail damage and deterioration of the original materials are evident on the dome.
At some locations where there is paint loss, surface corrosion of the galvanized sheet metal has been discovered on the wood decking on the underside of the dome.
Work plans are extensive, including replacement and repair of the existing decorative sheet metal, repainting, roof repair, and re-gilding of the dome. The repairs are intended to extend the life expectancy of the dome by more than 75 years.
The initial Capitol was completed in 1888, when Wyoming statehood was assured but still two years before the state was admitted to the union.
The initial was topped with a copper dome designed in the spirit of the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington, D.C.
Later, gold leaf was applied at specific locations to create contrast and achieve the aesthetic effect of a beacon shining over the skyline of Cheyenne.At certain times of day, the dome still is visible for as far as 30 miles when struck by sunlight.
The dome of the Capitol is 50 feet in diameter at the base, and the peak stands 146 feet above the ground. The 24-carat gold leaf on the dome was added on top of the original copper in 1900 to prevent tarnishing (and it has been retouched five times since).
Today the Capitol dome structure consists of a sheet copper dome, which is covered in gold leaf, and galvanized sheet metal lantern (at the top) and drum (the base of the dome structure).
The Wyoming Legislature has not used the Capitol since 2015, moving temporarily to an office building elsewhere in Cheyenne for both the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions.
The earliest the lawmakers might return to the Capitol is 2020.