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Dreary coating of lichen being scrubbed from state Capitol

Capitol Dome’s makeover is more than just for looks

Masonry cleaning of the Legislative Building in Olympia is an essential part of maintaining a historical landmark.
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Masonry cleaning of the Legislative Building in Olympia is an essential part of maintaining a historical landmark.

The Capitol dome — and the rest of the Legislative Building — are getting a much-needed cleaning.

During the 2018 legislative session, the Legislature approved $3.4 million for masonry preservation work on the historic dome, which is now underway. The cleaning will take away the darkened appearance cause by lichen growing on the sandstone.

The dome was last cleaned in 2012, when no cleaning agents were used. Officials say that may have allowed the lichen to appear sooner.

This time the cleaning combines the use of low water pressure and gentle cleaning agents. SHKS Architects of Seattle completed design work for the project in August and Pioneer Masonry of Seattle is doing the cleaning and restoration work.

The project includes cleaning the plaza area as well as the dome. Bill Frare, Enterprise Services Assistant Director for Facility Professional Services, said in a news release, “We are confident there is enough time to finish work on the dome this fall, but we may have to do the lower sections next year.”

Learn more about the cleaning and preservation work on the Department of Enterprise Services’ building project web page.

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