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Bad marble replaced as Minnesota Capitol renovation winds down

Work on the Minnesota Capitol building is winding down, allowing workers to begin removing a shroud that has protected workers as they repair marble around the dome. Whiter pieces of marble in this Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, photo are replacements for crumbling parts of the exterior. (Forum News Service photo by Don Davis)1 / 4
Work on the Minnesota Capitol building is winding down, allowing workers to begin removing a shroud that has protected workers as they repair marble around the dome. This Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, photo shows, however, that cranes and other construction work continues. (Forum News Service photo by Don Davis)2 / 4
As tree leaves change colors and fall, a shroud that has covered the Minnesota Capitol dome is coming down in this Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, photo. The covering protected workers replacing defective marble pieces. (Forum News Service photo by Don Davis)3 / 4
As tree leaves change colors and fall, a shroud that has covered the Minnesota Capitol dome is coming down in this Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, photo. The covering protected workers replacing defective marble pieces. (Forum News Service photo by Don Davis)4 / 4

ST. PAUL—Workers have replaced nearly 6,000 deteriorated marble pieces on the Minnesota Capitol building's outside walls as part of a comprehensive $310 million inside and outside renovation project.

They also made about 20,000 other repairs to the exterior.

The marble work wrapped up in the past week when the final new marble piece was placed in an arch above the building's main entrance. The replacement was a milestone as work begins to wrap up in anticipation of the Capitol's Jan. 3 reopening.

Some relatively minor work will continue after Jan. 3, but renovation leaders say the building will be ready for tenants by then.

Signs that work was winding down are abundant around the Capitol, even as massive cranes remain at work.

A shroud that surrounded the dome is being removed. A new pedestrian mall has been paved. Much of the Capitol lawn is being restored to grass. Steps leading up to the Capitol have been replaced. A tunnel under the Capitol that links state office buildings in the area reopened with a more refined look than the old tunnel.

The Capitol, finished in 1905, has been closed most of the time since 2013.

"We are pleased that the white marble facade of the Minnesota state Capitol's is now fully restored and will once again shine for Minnesotans and visitors," Administration Commissioner Matt Massman said. "Completing the marble restoration is a key milestone toward returning this great landmark to its former grandeur from a building that was literally falling apart."

Pieces of the Capitol exterior were falling off, and the dome leaked water before the restoration began. Work on the dome began in 2008, and emergency exterior work in 2011, before the full restoration project started more than three years ago.

Interior work included the gutting of the Capitol basement and some other areas to provide new offices or public spaces. With most state senators and Senate employees moving to a new office building across the street, space was freed up for a variety of areas the public may use in what had turned into a cramped Capitol.

"The monumental coordination of partners and craft persons on-site and around the world over three years is amazing," said Jason McMillen, senior project manager for JE Dunn, the general contractor for the restoration.

Marble came from Georgia and artisans were brought in from many places to restore murals throughout the Capitol.

Interior work included updating the building to modern technology, improving access and restoring art.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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