The stained glass windows in the state Capitol in Pierre are going to be restored starting July 29.

During the next 14 months, the skylight installations in the Capitol rotunda dome, House and Senate chambers and above the grand marble staircase will be removed, restored and reinstalled.

What we see as visitors to the Capitol compared to what is actually happening to the integrity of the glass is very different. Please note image above, compared to the featured image at the beginning of this story.

An assessment of the stained glass was completed in April. Significant problems were found as age, gravity and original material and design weaknesses have taken their toll since the stained glass was installed in 1909.

Paul Kinsman, is the Commissioner of the State Bureau of Administration:

“The glass is bowing badly enough in spots that it could fail if it’s allowed to get much worse.  We’ve done spot repairs over decades and even those fixes are now failing.”

The 199 large panels of stained glass will be removed, placed in a custom shipping frame and transported to Conrad Schmitt Studios just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The glass pieces will be repaired and releaded, and the panels rebuilt. New structural supports will be added to ensure even longer-term strength.

The stained glass in the Rotunda dome will be the first to be removed. Portions of the second floor Rotunda will be closed to foot traffic during July and August.

The House and Senate chamber stained glass will be removed following the conclusion of the 2014 Legislative Session. The barrel vault above the grand marble staircase will be the last to be removed in May, 2014.

The stained glass panels will return to the Capitol next year, with the Rotunda dome stained glass expected to return in June, 2014. The House and Senate chamber glass and the barrel vault above the grand staircase are scheduled to return in September, 2014.
Kinsman said the goal is to complete the project in time for the state’s 125th anniversary of statehood on November 2, 2014.

Funding for the $2.7 million project comes from the Bureau of Administration’s Maintenance and Repair fund.

Conrad Schmitt Studios was founded in 1889 and is the largest firm of its kind in the nation. Their past restoration projects include St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls, St. Mary Catholic Church in Salem, the Lawrence County Courthouse, state capitols in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame.

Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard
Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard