Inspection of W.Va. Capitol dome finds no damage from 2013 sesquicentennial fireworks

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CHARLESTON, West Virginia — An inspection of the West Virginia Capitol's golden dome didn't find any damage from fireworks shows during last year's celebration of the state's 150th anniversary, an architectural firm said in a report to the state.

From street level, the dome's gilded finishes "appear to be as bright and reflective as they were on the date of installation," Swanke Hayden Connell Architects said in the report released Tuesday by the Department of Administration, the Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/1obJds9 ) reported.

The inspection found "selected areas of deterioration" caused by weathering and possible impact from wind-blown dirt particles, the report said.

"Several small areas of indentations documented during the recent assessment were initially thought to be impact damage either from hail stones or debris from pyrotechnics," the report states.

The indentations were confirmed to be pre-existing conditions after a review of photographs taken when a regilding of the dome was completed in 2005.

"In general, the painted and gilded coatings on the dome are aging and performing well," the report states. "We fully anticipate the gilding to be serviceable for at least another 15 to 20 years and possibly longer if there are no detrimental climate changes or increased air pollution."

The inspection was conducted by a team including architects, engineers, and a representative of the company that gilded the dome. Site visits were conducted Feb. 20-21.

Thousands of fireworks were shot over the dome during the three-day sesquicentennial celebration in June 2013. Charleston sculptor and artist Joe Mullins had raised concerns that the pyrotechnics might have the damaged the dome.

Mullins told the newspaper that he is skeptical of the inspection's findings.

"If they conclude the gilding could be damaged by wind-blown dust particles in 50 mph gusts, I would think that with 100 mph and 3,000- to 5,000-degree pyrotechnics, the logical conclusion would be perhaps they could cause damage as well," he said.

Gov. Earl Tomblin had moved up a scheduled 10-year inspection of the dome after concerns were raised about potential fireworks damage.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com

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