Work is drawing to a close on a $2-million package of renovations to the dome of the Vermont State House in Montpelier, meaning the scaffolding that has wrapped the top of the building for several months will slowly start coming down.
Friday, necn climbed nearly 200 feet of temporary stairs to meet the crews behind the painting, patching, and re-gilding of the dome, and to see their crafts up close.
“You can’t beat the view up here,” Thomas De Crescenzo of Engelberth Construction said from a perch on scaffolding high above the ground. “Even on the rainy days, you come up here and it’s kind of surreal being up here above Montpelier, the beautiful city it is.”
State House curator David Schutz said it took 70,000 sheets of gold leaf, or roughly $225,000 worth of precious metal, applied by a specialized team from New York, to cover the dome.
The team even found initials scratched into the dome by laborers from generations ago, Schutz pointed out.
“When you work for a historical building, it’s always a pleasure and an honor to preserve all this beauty,” said Maddalena Fanconi of Evergreene Architectural Arts, one of the craftspeople responsible for the gilding on the State House dome.
Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, got a demonstration on the gold leaf technique.
When asked in jest by necn if he may consider a second job as a gilder, Scott laughed, saying, “Well, maybe. We’ll see how the election goes in November and we’ll see from there!”
Scott called the overall project a reflection of how much Vermonters honor their history, respect tradition, and care about the important work and democracy the State House stands for.
Scott said he was grateful for the hard work of contractors to preserve the State House and keep it looking good for many years to come.
The capstone of the improvements is a 14’ 9” mahogany sculpture of the Roman goddess of agriculture. It will replace an old version of Ceres that was removed earlier this year. She was rotting.
Chris Miller is publicly sculpting the new statue inside the Barre Granite Museum.
“This is an incredible commission, and I’m incredibly honored,” Miller said Friday. “For a wood carver, commissions like this never come along. It’s a one in a million.”
Other facets of the job include new paint for the State House drum and repairs to the roof.
Those upgrades are expected to last decades, and the statue is projected to stand 120 or 150 years.
The scaffolding is scheduled to come down by the end of October, Schutz said, with the replacement statue brought in by crane before the end of the year.