In May 2002 after that legislative session, the domed building on the Capitol campus called the Legislative, or Leg. Building, was emptied. People from the maintenance staff to the Governor packed up their work place and moved it to somewhere else on campus.
Everything went out except the desks on the House and Senate floors. They were covered. Also covered was much of the floor, the main stairs, the carpet in the hallways, and part of the walls of the rotunda. Chipboard was also laid over all the second floor in the State seal area to protect it while work went on around it. It is good to know that two months ago enough chipboard to sheath three homes was given to Habitat for Humanity.
Much of the work on the Leg. Building came as a result of the February 2001 Nisqually earthquake. The pillars that held up the dome had moved, some as much as six inches, so they had to be strengthened and anchored down. This was no small task. There is only a small elevator that travels to the eighth floor then a series of narrow stairways that go to the top. More than 60,000 pounds of rebar had to be carried up those stairways! Some of the work was planned before the earthquake.
In 1928 there were about 155 people who moved into the building. In 2001 there were about 455 people to use the plumbing and the wiring. Think of all the new machines that had to be plugged in. Plus, there were thousands of visitors every day.
It is interesting that just a day before the 2001 earthquake, a renovation contract was signed with M. A. Mortenson to upgrade heating, air, lighting, wiring and to generally extend the life of the building. The next day, he had a much greater job to do!
Another interesting tidbit is a statement made by a reporter in 1926 after Governor Hartley put the capstone on the top of the dome. He said that never again would human hands be laid on that capstone. He didn't count on the three earthquakes that caused major repairs.
In 1949 the original lantern at the top had to be replaced. This time new replacement stones were carved for the damaged ones. The master carver's name is Keith Phillips of Tenino. The stone still comes from the original Wilkeson quarry near Mt. Rainier.
It was an excited group of people who assembled this past Monday morning for the grand re-opening of the Legislative building. We were excited because our historic and beautiful building didn't look any different. We were happy to be back into more efficient working quarters. We felt relieved that the earthquake damage was gone.
Across the State, our impressive place of government is open for business again after 28 months of repair. It is ready for your visit.
Jerri Honeyford,wife of Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside), provides her Across the State column as a means to update Lower Yakima Valley residents with what is presently occurring in Olympia.