August 17, 2011

State House: Color me yellow? No way

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State House with iconic dome shrouded by drop cloths for $500,000 repainting.

State House with iconic dome shrouded by drop cloths for $500,000 repainting.

As the painters working on stripping and repainting the State House dome found, much of the original dome was not white, but a color the original plan called “straw.”

But Sam Cook, in charge of the State House complex of buildings for the Department of General Services, shot down a stray rumor that the iconic dome – the oldest and largest of its kind in the United States, according to the state archives – would be restored to what Cook called its “wheat-ish looking color.”

The dome, the tallest building in Annapolis, has been painted white for at least 100 years, Cook said, and “everybody has seen it that color.” If you start messing with that, “you put yourself on the road to failure.”

If state officials were thinking of changing the color, they would have needed some kind of public process to announce the change and ask for public input.

The dome has been going through a $500,000 process to blast off peeling latex-based paint and replace it with oil based paint, as described in an earlier article by the Post’s Aaron Davis.

State House dome in 1995 from a helicopter by Tom Darden.

State House dome in 1995 from a helicopter by Tom Darden.

The paint job won’t be finished till late October, Cook said, so the scaffolding around the dome is likely to be still up when the legislature meets in special session the week of Oct. 17.

The $9.9 million renovation of the Lowe House Office Building “is coming along good,” Cook reported, with “still some cleanup to do.” Most of the displaced delegates and their staff should be able to move back in by the special session. If work is not done on some offices, legislators will have temporary quarters in an “overflow room” on the first floor, he said.

–Len Lazarick
Len@MarylandReporter.com