Following a destructive fire a few weeks after the September 11th attacks, the centerpiece of the University of Iowa re-opens to the public today (Saturday) after four and a half years and millions of dollars in restoration work.
U-of-I President David Skorton hosts a five-minute on-line video that reveals a sneak peak of the renovated Old Capitol and encourages people to finally return to the grand, historic building.
Skorton says this is the first time Old Capitol will be opened “since the terrible fire in 2001 that destroyed the dome and caused so much interior damage. The designers and architects and contractors and all of those who’ve been part of this project have made this treasure for the state of Iowa better than ever.”
Sandy Boyd was the U-of-I’s president in the 1970s and is now director of the Old Capitol Museum. Boyd says he’s thrilled to have the ornate building again opening its doors. Boyd says “This wonderful, stately, elegant building symbolizes the pioneering spirit of Iowa and that of the University of Iowa, but Old Capitol has always been about more than just the University of Iowa. For years, Old Capitol has been one of our state’s most recognizable landmarks, a living symbol that instills pride in all Iowans.”
The building includes many unusual architectural features, including a reverse spiral wooden staircase. Boyd says the focal point of what’s now known as the Pentacrest played a pivotal role in shaping Iowa’s early days. Boyd says Old Capitol doesn’t lack for history as the first territorial legislature met there in 1842 and celebrated Iowa’s admission to the Union there in 1846. Ansel Briggs was inaugurated Iowa’s first governor there and it’s where the state’s Constitution was drafted and approved and where the first six Iowa general assemblies convened.
The reopening celebration begins at 9:30 AM (Saturday) with formal ceremonies and continues all day with self-guided tours, musical performances and other festivities. For more information, surf to: “www.uiowa.edu/~oldcap/”.