The following was published online at WCAX:
Montpelier’s ‘golden dome’ to get a makeover
By Neal Goswami
Posted: Mon 5:32 PM, Mar 12, 2018
Updated: Mon 7:05 PM, Mar 12, 2018
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) The golden dome atop Vermont’s Statehouse is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Green Mountain State, but officials say it needs a makeover, and it will get one this summer.
On top of the Statehouse’s golden dome, in just a few weeks, the gold leaf will be replaced. “We believe it’s been regilded ten times in the last century, and it started in 1906,” said Vermont State Curator David Schutz.
There are now 14 state capitols with golden domes. Massachusetts was the first in the late 19th century. “Vermont was one of the last, so it takes a while for us to go with the trends,” Schutz said.
Gold was last applied in 1976. It was expected to last ten to twenty years, but it’s now been 42 years. Buildings and General Services Commissioner Chris Cole says it continues to deteriorate and now needs replacing. “I think the Vermont taxpayers have gotten their value out of an additional 20 years,” he said.
When lawmakers leave town, scaffolding will be erected and workers will begin removing and collecting the existing gold. They’ll then replace it 23.75 carat gold leaf — enough to make half a bar of gold. “Gilding domes, it turns out, is not something that has changed all that much,” Schutz said.
The wooden statue on top of the dome is officially known as Agriculture. It represents the Goddess Ceres. It’s also due to be replaced. It will be the third statue — the first two lasted 80-years each. This time it will be made of mahogany and be finished with an epoxy. It could last up to 200 years this time. “We’re hoping for better with the third statue, and we’re carving out of wood that stands a chance of holding up over time,” Schutz said.
Refurbishing the dome has been planned for years and finally received $2 million in the capital bill last year — the gold leaf accounting for 10-percent of it. Cole says governors and lawmakers have weighed its need against other capital needs — like mental health facilities. “When you look at those types of needs compared to repairing the dome, it’s easy to see how it has gotten pushed aside,” Schutz said.
Officials say restoring the dome is important — both for history — and tourism. “The dome symbolizes the state of Vermont. The Statehouse is one of our biggest tourist attractions in the state,” Cole said.
The pending work means tourists won’t see the dome for a few months, but officials plan to make trips to the Statehouse worth it, with information about the work and its historic significance.