Arkansas Senate Chamber Renovation Project
May 2001-June 2002
Construction of the state Capitol was completed in 1915. The Senate chamber was remodeled in 1966. A major renovation was begun in 2001.
During the 2001-2002 restoration, workers removed asbestos and improved the design and efficiency of the chamber and surrounding offices. They installed new heating, air conditioning and electrical systems. Also, the Senate was restored as closely as possible to its original 1915 appearance.
Carpet was pulled up to reveal the original black and white tile flooring, which was cleaned and repaired. The seating galleries on the east and west sides of the chamber now hold more people, and a work space on the south side that had been a storage area now has been converted into a third public gallery.
The senators' desks were replaced. Scaffolding filled the entire chamber, allowing workers to reach the stained glass in the dome 75 feet above the chamber floor. They restored the painted ceiling, stained glass and chandelier.
The ceiling was repainted to look as it did in 1915. A restoration artist removed layers of paint until she uncovered the original layer. She sent paint chips to a laboratory for analysis, then the original colors were reproduced and used to paint the dome ceiling.
All the colorful stained glass panels in the dome were removed and cleaned. Several broken panes were replaced.
The Tiffany chandelier, weighing more than 750 pounds, was taken down piece by piece and cleaned.
A golden starburst, original to the 1915 Senate chamber but covered up in later years, was repainted to enhance the brilliance of the chandelier.
Work then began on the marble walls and the President's desk. Cloth paneling, installed in 1966 to absorb noise, was removed. The marble was cleaned and chips and scratches were filled in and polished over.
New carpet has a Seal of the State of Arkansas inlay in the center of the chamber. New furniture was installed.
The restoration closed the chamber for more than a year. The newly restored chamber was used for the first time in June of 2002 for Girls State and Boys State. This "trial run" provided an opportunity to check the acoustics and adjust the sound system.
Arkansas Senate Chamber Photos
Click Images for Larger Version.