It has been said that historic buildings do not belong to us, but to our forefathers and our descendants. That saying could very well apply to our state Capitol. This week, architects and contractors began work on a $1 million restoration project in the House chamber. The restoration will include restoring and waterproofing the exterior skylight, restoring cracked pieces of stained glass, restoring plaster in the ceiling that has received water damage, and restoring the House chamber chandelier.
A historic paint analysis has been conducted to return the chamber to its original colors. One of the preliminary proposals stated, “The richness and visual character of the various glaze finished on the architectural plaster created a visual variety and depth that the current finishes only hint at.”
Clements and Associates will be the architects of the project. Austin Construction has been hired as the general contractor.
House members have been meeting in the current chamber since 1911. The furniture made its way from the Old State House in a way the night before session began. At that time, electrical lighting was still new and sound systems were not yet in use. The stained glass and drapes were added in 1914 to reduce the glare and temper the chamber’s acoustics.
Since then technology has made it necessary to make upgrades in the chamber to increase our efficiency and transparency. But House leadership has continued to strive to keep the integrity of this once richly decorated space. This ongoing restoration project will go along in preserving the original integrity of the structure while still providing a practical space for public service.
We invite you to follow our progress. We will be periodically posting pictures to the House facebook page at facebook.com/arkansashouse and on twitter @arkansashouse.
This House is not just ours, it is yours. We are certain when the project is complete, it will be a House we are all proud to call our own.