When the Utah Capitol reopens early next year after a four-year, $200 million restoration project, it will include a little bit of Arkansas history.
The southern state has donated eight vintage glass globes for the massive chandelier that hangs above the Capitol rotunda, said David Hart, executive director of the Capitol Preservation Board, which is overseeing the project.
"Southern hospitality is really wonderful," Hart said. "It's amazing how gracious they've been about this whole thing."
The donated globes came from the same model of chandelier that hangs in the Arkansas Capitol in Little Rock, a two-ton fixture made in 1913 by the Mitchell-Vance Company of New York and sold via catalog.
Utah had already invested more than a year trying to find someone able to reproduce the original milk-colored glass globes, Hart said. But because the old glass contained lead and other toxic chemicals that can't be used today, the results were mixed.
Arkansas, which replaced all dozen-plus of its chandelier's globes in 2003 with a different type of sandblasted glass, heard about Utah's troubles through the New Jersey company hired to reproduce the original glass.
When Utah's state historic preservation officer, Wilson Martin, asked what happened to the original globes, Hart said Arkansas officials offered to dig them out of storage and send them to Utah.
There were eight enough to replace all of the broken globes in Utah's chandelier with two spares. And just in case disaster strikes, Hart said the state will have the reproductions on hand, too.
The Utah chandelier is expected to be re-hung in the rotunda in time for a planned ceremony with Arkansas officials tentatively set for Nov. 5. Hart said drawings of both the Little Rock and Salt Lake Capitols have already been sent to Arkansas as a thank-you gift.
Utah's Capitol is set to reopen in January, after being closed since 2004 for renovations and an earthquake retrofit that included the installation of nearly 300 "shock absorbers" under the granite building.Hart said the bronze chandelier, which illuminates the artwork depicting the state's history in the rotunda, is among the most important features of the building, which was completed more than 90 years ago.
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