Initial State Capitol improvements nearly complete

Initial improvements to State Capitol offices nearly complete

The first of many renovations at the Oklahoma State Capitol are nearly complete. The improvements made so far make up $7.2 million of the $120 million approved in total.

"This project was done on time and on budget," said Office of Management and Enterprise Services spokesman John Estus. "It was a very aggressive schedule."

In the last five months, crews working six days a week were able to complete the first pre-requisite phase of the State Capitol repairs. Several dozen House and Senate employees will move into the renovated offices on the first and third floors. The renovations taught crews a lot about what they'll find as they continue to renovate other areas.

"It's given the team an idea of what they're going to expect," said Estus. "It's given the tenants and idea of what to expect."

The renovations pay homage to the building's historic character while still bringing it up to 21st century standards. Original 100-year-old door frames were reused, and fire alarms and sprinkler systems were added.

Estus says as construction crews tore down old walls they found beautiful surprises. Behind sheet rock crews found hidden windows, and underneath bulkheads they found vaulted ceilings. However, not every treasure buried at the Capitol was found in good shape.

"We uncovered beautiful marble floors that had seen tile and carpet glued on top of them. The glue that was used was laced with asbestos," Estus said.

The glue caused the marble to change color in some areas from white to brown. There are also long, dark brown lines in one marble hallway. Estus thinks the lines were from a steel cart used to bring items to and from a vault decades ago. The brown discolorations cannot be removed, but additional tests will be made to try.

Estus says despite the unfortunate condition of the marble, even damage adds character. The mix of the old and the new remind our state how far we've come.

"If we try to keep it as consistent as we can to the original architect's plans, I think it'll stand the test of time," said Estus.

Work on the basement and exterior of the Capitol will begin this summer. At that time the public will see scaffolding around much of the building. If additional funds are approved for renovations, the price tag could reach $250 million and take five to six years to complete.

Employees are expected to move into the new renovated offices next Monday.

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