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Repair Projects Underway at State Capitol

January 17, 2008

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama State Capitol is undergoing some long awaited and much needed repairs.  In addition to replacing all 876, manufacturer-recalled sprinkler heads, repairing and repainting the stucco covered columns on the eastside of the Capitol, and re-grouting the exterior marble on the Capitol’s porches and landings, the 157-year old Capitol building will undergo flooring and roofing repairs this year.

“The Capitol was renovated from 1986 to 1992, and as with all man-made structures, periodic upkeep is critical to the preservation of the building, “explained Capitol Senior Restoration Artisan Bob Canter.  “Though some of our projects fall under the category of routine maintenance, due to the sheer size of the building, they can become quite complicated.”

The history and age of the building with its numerous additions also play a large part in the decision making process for these projects.  Modern day materials and techniques may not be appropriate for repair of the building.  Projects often entail quite a bit of research to determine the most compatible materials and techniques.

“We’re very fortunate to have a full-time, on-site Artisan with Bob’s expertise,” said Andy Hornsby, the state’s deputy finance director.  “Bob has been in this position for 10 years and understands the Capitol—inside and out.  Having someone with not only his knowledge, but also his concern for the well-being of the Capitol, insures Alabama’s citizens will long have a State Capitol they can be proud of.”

This year’s first project is to address the Capitol roof.  The existing roof is an EPDM rubber roof that has a life expectancy of 15 years.  It is now in its 18th year and will be replaced with a high-grade, longer-lasting metal roof.  The aged roof requires immediate attention due to leaks which could cause costly repairs to the historic landmark's interiors.  The $1.83 million project will take approximately one year to complete, but will result in a quality product with a 50-year life expectancy.  During installation, set to begin in the next few weeks, a staging area will be positioned on the Capitol lawn, in an area between the south terrace and the south wing of the building.  The roofing project will have virtually no impact on the daily operations of the building.

This year’s second project is replacement of worn and frayed carpeting.  The unique carpeting seen throughout the Capitol was laid during the building’s restoration in the late '80s and early '90s.  Work will be conducted mostly on nights and weekends to minimize interruptions to office work and the Capitol’s visitors.  The re-carpeting project will cost approximately $128,000 and will begin when already-ordered materials arrive this spring.

The Capitol’s carpet has an interesting history.  With rich colors and appealing patterns, the carpet was designed and produced specifically for the Alabama Capitol by US Axminster in Greenville, Mississippi.  The company was bought out by Brintons, the oldest manufacturer of woven carpet in the world.   Though Brintons closed the plant in Mississippi some years later, the company still retains the copyright to the distinctive designs.  The replacement Axminster carpet is now only produced at the main Brinton plant in Kidder Minster, England.  "Unfortunately, none of the original Capitol carpet exists today, as it was removed and cut into blankets for use by Confederate soldiers near the end of the Civil War,” explained Canter. “The patterns and colors of the carpet are the result of extensive research of carpets commonly used during the 1850 to 1912 period."

Canter continued, "Our beautiful Capitol Building is registered as a National Historic Landmark.  It is an interesting mix of Government offices and museum spaces, which make it one of the state's premier tourist attractions.  We have welcomed visitors from all over the state, the nation and the world.  Architecture has always been the most accessible window into the past.  This building has witnessed two of the most dynamic turning points in our Nation's history; and therefore, it is a wonderful resource in which all Alabamians can take pride. We are very dedicated to its maintenance and preservation."

Business and tours at the Capitol will continue as usual during all repairs.  Small areas may be roped off for brief periods of time, but additional tour-routes are available to allow full access.  Repairs, totaling an estimated $2.14 million, will be covered through the Capitol’s emergency funds and were awarded to companies according to the State bid laws.  The Capitol staff and Finance Department work in conjunction with the Alabama Historical Commission to ensure the protection of that investment.

The Capitol is open daily from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday for individual self-guided tours.  Guided tours are available on Saturdays from 9 to 4.  Guided tours for groups of 15 or more during the week may be scheduled through the Capitol tour office at (334) 242-3935.  All tours are free to the public.

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About the Alabama Department of Finance
The mission of the State of Alabama Department of Finance is to provide outstanding resourceful leadership and service in areas of financial management and operational support to advance the Governor’s mission of restoring trust and transforming state government.  The Finance Director is the chief financial officer of the state, the advisor of the Governor and of the Legislature in financial matters, and at all times, is charged with protecting the financial interests of the state. The Director is also responsible to the Governor for the administration of the Department of Finance and its divisions:  purchasing, comptroller, information services, budget, service management, risk management, legal, finance accounting and debt management.

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