With 2016 marking the 100th anniversary of the state Capitol building, plans are in place to make the structure a place for workers and visitors to use for several more years to come.
Dana Miller, chair of the Missouri State Capitol Commission, said while the building itself was completed in 1917, the first General Assembly to meet in the building was in 1919.
“We have no appropriation, so the commission is using money in a fund to do commemorative activities in January,” Miller said. “Gov.-Elect Greitens has said he’d be supportive of doing some of these on Inaugural Day, Jan. 9, but if we can’t we’re looking at Jan. 4.”
The commission members represent agencies such as the Office of Administration, the State Archives, facilities and the state history museum.
“It’s an all-volunteer effort, and we’ve done a lot of fundraising the past few years and raised awareness to keep up with the restoration of the building,” Miller said.
The commission has formed a nonprofit organization, Friends of the Missouri State Capitol, as they realized they needed to have the ability for people to donate and help them with tax benefits, Miller said.
“It helps us with the real need to raise funds to help promote the restoration of building,” she said. “We decided to hold events and have commemorative items to market with the proceeds going to help restoration.”
Miller said most state capitols are not decorated or adorned with art like Missouri’s. When she was appointed to the commission in 2012, she said, so much of the building was crumbling.
“We had water leaking, plaster popping off and mold, which made you worry about the health effects on workers,” she said. “We were also worried about the art. We realized there were tight finances, but like a home, you’ve got to take care of the house — and this the people’s house.”
Events have been held at the Capitol since 2014, raising approximately $220,000, and the commission is considering hosting something this fall, possibly around veto session.
Miller said assessments of art in the Capitol have been done and more are coming.
“Murals will be repaired based on those reports,” she said. “We’re supporting other efforts to the continued restoration of the building. That includes the south side step repairs. Under those stairs there were offices where water was coming in and mold needed to be cleaned out. That’s the first part of this major restoration project. The second phase you’ll see in the next couple of years, if bond money is reappointed, restore the exterior stone work.
“We’d also like to make all Capitol offices fully accessible. There’s been discussions on removing mezzanine offices and putting them in other areas, but I’m not sure how that would shake out.”
For more information about Capitol projects, go online to capitol.mo.gov. Construction updates are also posted on the Missouri State Capitol Commission’s Facebook page.