The dire state of our State Capitol

The Minnesota State Capitol — an icon of both our home and native-son Cass Gilbert — is in dire need of renovation. Over the weekend, several newspapers wrote of the seriousness of this situation. But beyond the politics and costs, it’s important to remember that the Capitol stands as the original “people’s building.” And from sessions and rallies to middle-school field trips, all Minnesotans have a unique relationship with its golden horses and marble dome. As Katy Meeks of the Hibbing Daily Tribune writes:

As I aimlessly walked through the tunnels to the State Office Building and weaved up and down the marble staircases in the Capitol, I thought about how much that building meant to me as a milestone. And then I started to notice something.

This building, the Minnesota State Capitol – one of the most important buildings in the entire state – is falling apart. I knew it was last year, I even heard about the desired renovations in years past, but maybe something about the lack of activity around me helped me notice just how necessary those renovations are, and soon.

The once striking marble has faded to bland, the walls have water damage, paint is peeling, and I routinely see wires visible on the basement ceilings. The exterior also needs a major overhaul, and from what I’ve heard the plumbing isn’t all that ideal.

And I found that Minnesota’s Capitol Building is one of a small handful of Capitols of its age nationwide that have not gone through a major revamp. The building, with so much history, will be beyond repair if not soon preserved.

Regardless of those needs, who has the time? And what would happen to the needs of those working in the Capitol every day? I know these renovations are important to everyone, but I just didn’t see how it could happen any time soon or at least without extensive planning many years in the future.

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