ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A milestone at the Minnesota State Capitol Friday, marking the near-completion of a three-year renovation project.
The state’s historic Civil War flags were returned to public display in the Capitol rotunda, a delicate and painstaking project by some of the most highly-skilled conservation experts in the state.
It is one of the final tasks in the massive restoration of a State Capitol building constructed in large part as a Civil War memorial.
“So this is really a place to honor those Civil War veterans,” said Brian Pease, historic site manager at the State Capitol for the Minnesota Historical Society. “This was, in the minds of those people alive when they built this building, that was the Greatest Generation of that era.”
Aging Civil War veterans carried the flags into the new State Capitol building when it opened in 1905, one of the last public ceremonies in Minnesota commemorating their war service.
The State Capitol today now looks much the same as it did more than a century ago.
There’s been a top to bottom restoration, including the world famous Capitol dome.
Paintings are restored to original brilliance. Plaster figures glitter with gold detail; many were dulled and unnoticed for years.
“Everything looks new,” said Pease, “partly because it’s been a restoration to make it look as it did in 1905.”
The 16 battle flags used to be displayed together, hanging on poles. Now they are unfurled and visible, and every few months, they will rotate in and out of the rotunda.
The State Capitol renovation cost $330 million.
It’s been mostly closed to the public for the last three years. It will open once again in January.