Iowa State Capitol - Small Domes Gilding

Des Moines, IA

Iowa’s first state capitol building was originally constructed in Iowa City between 1840 and 1842. When the capitol was moved to the more central city of Des Moines in 1857 a new capitol building was required. A design competition for the new structure was held in 1870 and architects John Cochran and Alfred Piquenard, along with their assistants Mifflin Bell and William Hackney, were chosen; they were also responsible for designing the Illinois State Capitol the previous year. The new Iowa State Capitol Building was designed in the classical revival style, with influences from L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts; its most prominent feature being the gilded central dome and the four smaller partially gilded flanking domes. It was mainly constructed between 1871 and 1886, though funding was insufficient to finish some of the interior decoration and a few of the exterior features.

Changes to the building began in 1902 when work was done to finally complete the missing features and make any necessary repairs. During this time several changes were made including the switch from gas to electric lights, replacing the slate roof with copper, and re-gilding of the dome. In 1904, fire swept through the Supreme Court and House of Representatives, which required additional restoration. The dome was re-gilded again in the mid 1960s. The Iowa State Capitol was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, which spurred a renewed effort to preserve and restore the building. The mid-1980s through 2000 saw restoration to both the interior and exterior elements, which included re-gilding of the dome, as well as updates to mechanical and electrical systems.

In August and September of 2023 EverGreene was contracted to re-gild the four small flanking domes of the Iowa State Capitol Building. EverGreene restoration specialists gilded several decorative features on the domes, including the finials, cupolas, over-window moldings, and the parts of the decorative ribbing pattern. Each element was cleaned, prepped, and gilded using 23.75 karat, 22 gram gold leaf.