“This renovation of the Utah State Capitol, with its scope, vision, commitment, and authenticity, will distinguish it as one of the most significant projects that has ever been done in the United States.” ~ Wilson Martin, Utah State Historic Preservation Officer
Ninety-five years ago, Architect Richard Kletting drew up a stunning design for the Utah State Capitol. Today, a major restoration of the Capitol has recreated his vision.
To find out how, read on!
The major purpose of the restoration project was to keep the building from falling down. That’s engineering stuff, and you can read about it here. On to the preservation part!
Hard to believe, but in the 1960s the state pulled the original windows out and replaced them with aluminum. Today, the originals have been re-created, complete with the mahogany trim milled like the original and with replicated bronze pulleys and weights. (There are 550 windows, by the way!)
The drum (that round part beneath the dome) has been a big problem over the years. Architect Kletting wanted to use terra cotta originally, but the state decided to save money and just use stucco, scoring and painting it to look like stone. (They did use terra cotta for the decorations).
But plaster isn’t a long-lasting material. Its deterioration even damaged the interior murals!
So the preservation team decided to replace the stucco with terra cotta. Richard Kletting would be pleased.
Kletting was ahead of his time in bringing in outside light as much as possible. For instance, the rotunda floor once was partly glass. That has been restored.
The immense skylights (which comprise 25% of the building’s main roof!) have also been restored and upgraded.
Nine decades ago, Utahns debated fiercely whether to use polished Vermont granite or the rougher but local Little Cottonwood Canyon granite for the Capitol’s columns. Local stone won out. The columns have been cleaned and repaired.
The original decorative paint schemes have been re-created, and a replica of the original dais sits in the House chambers.