Capitol Dome project links to Teller County

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With gold mined in Teller County, the Capitol Dome in Denver is being restored with a donation of 72 ounces of gold from the Cripple Creek & Victor Mining Co.

According to Jane Mannon, community affairs manager for CC&V, the price of gold at the time of the donation, September 2011, was $1,500 an ounce.

“They send the pure gold bars to Italy where they make the gold leaf,” Mannon said. “There is nobody in the United States who makes gold leaf anymore.”

The project includes removing most of the copper and gold elements from the building, which have been damaged from more than 100 years of weather, including the freeze-thaw cycle of Colorado climate.

“We are repairing the plaster under the gold dome to better support the watertight system that will create the new copper and gold dome on the Capitol,” said Chris Derington, restoration superintendent with GH Phipps Construction.

The Capitol, an architectural landmark built in 1908, was adorned with gold donated by past owners of the same mine in Teller County.

Currently covered with a white shrink wrap plastic, the lower and upper drums have been sandblasted to remove all of the previous layers of paint. Three coats of high-performance paint have been applied, Derington said.

“All of the windows from the upper portion of the building have been removed and sent off site to be stripped of paint, repainted and reinstalled as the scaffold is being removed from the building,” he said.

In a ceremony at 11:45 a.m. June 18, the gold is scheduled to be turned over to Gov. John Hickenlooper. According to Mannon, CC & V employees will gather in a line on the Capitol stairs before the ceremony.

Application of the gold leaf is scheduled to begin in August and is expected to take several months. “Most of it is gold leaf in a roll 65 feet long,” Mannon said.

The last phase of the restoration is sandblasting and painting the base of the drum, repairing and reinstalling the windows. The entire project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2014.

A $17 million project, a portion of the money is from Limited Gaming Impact Fund. “So they cut way back on gaming grants for historic projects because it went to the dome,” Mannon said. “We’ve been told that funds are going to be tight because a lot of the money is going to the Capitol.”

As well, Mannon expresses concern about the ongoing maintenance of the Capitol. “Is there a source of funding because they let it go for so many years?,” she said. “On the one hand, it’s good that the gaming dollars are there, but on the other hand, this is a function of government; they need to maintain their facilities.”

Colorado Preservation Inc. heads up the fundraising campaign in a partnership with the private Share in the Care organization.

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