MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One by one, Minnesota’s governors are leaving the Minnesota State Capitol, carefully carried away, and crated.
As the Capitol begins a massive restoration, the building’s artwork is temporally heading to a new home.
Brian Pease is the Capitol site manager who oversees it all.
“It’s going to be really looking like a construction zone,” Pease said.
Moving bins are in place and boxes are filling up. Historic rooms, like the State Supreme Court, have been emptied.
Already, construction workers are deep below the Capitol floors, exposing limestone columns behind old walls and a century of wires.
In June, the governor and attorney general will vacate their offices. And in 2015, the Capitol will shut down.
“Top to bottom, east to west, north and south – the entire building will be closed at that time,” Pease said.
Most of the restoration work is to upgrade electrical and ventilation systems not visible to the public.
But paint specialists are moving into hallways that are long faded by smoke and smudge, and they’re already restoring some of the original bright colors the builders intended.
The art treasures making their way out of the Capitol will be stored securely offsite, leaving wide, empty spaces.
“To turn around the corner and see an empty wall space, it’s sometimes hard to realize that they’re going to be gone for a couple of years,” Pease said.
This is the first major State Capitol restoration in 109 years. It will take three years, ending in 2016. And cost more than $250 million.
During the renovation, the governor’s office will be in the Veterans Service Building, and the attorney general’s office will be in downtown St. Paul.