The historic Maryland State House dome has been restored and the second phase of the project to rehabilitate the country’s oldest state capital in continuous legislative use is now in progress.
After getting underway this summer, work to replace insulation, increase accessibility, replace and repair parts of the roof, and restore the windows as well as the brick and stonework will be complete by the end of next year, said Maryland Department of General Services spokesperson Nick Cavey. According to General Services’ records, this is the first large-scale restoration project the historic property has undergone since construction was completed in 1779, Cavey said.
The State House was the site of multiple significant moments in the nation’s early history. The building functioned as the U.S. Capitol from November 1783 through August 1784, during which time Gen. George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the Treaty of Paris was ratified, officially ending the Revolutionary War, according to the Maryland State Archives. Also during that time, Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson minister plenipotentiary to France at the State House, marking the first diplomatic appointment by the new nation.
It’s also the only statehouse ever to have served as the U.S. Capitol.
The dome restoration was completed right before Gov. Wes Moore’s Jan. 18 inauguration. Meeting that deadline was critical for General Services and the Sterling, Virginia-based contractor, The Christman Company, to create a backdrop for the historic swearing-in of the state’s first Black governor.
The team wasn’t able to restore the dome and the rest of the grounds simultaneously because of the scaffolding required for the dome project, Cavey said. Instead, the department went with a phased construction approach. The entire project is estimated to cost about $49 million and is funded with capital bond and capital appropriation funds, Cavey said.
“The project represents an essential investment to ensure the State House’s long-term viability while maintaining its status as the oldest State House in the nation under continuous legislative use,” Cavey said in a statement. “The restoration will preserve the State House for generations to come while promoting its rich state and national history.”
The renovated building will include two new accessible entrances — one on the north ground floor entrance and the other at the east entrance to the 1906 annex. Workers will also restore the brick on the State Circle retaining wall and repair decorative molding around the property.
“Most of the work is being done to the State House to preserve [it],” said Johnathan Medlock, assistant secretary of External Affairs at the Department of General Services. “We want to continue the integrity.”
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Modifications will also be made to the surrounding grounds, including improvements to landscaping, grading, ramps, walkways, lighting and railings.
The Old Treasury Building, a small structure on the State House grounds, is also getting a face-lift. Workers will restore the exterior to its aesthetic from around the time it was built between 1735 and 1736. It is the oldest public building in Annapolis, according to the Maryland State Archives.
“If funds allow, [it will be] further renovated to support use for self-guided exhibits interpreting Maryland’s earliest history,” Cavey said.
The project may impact parking on State Circle when construction is in progress, Cavey said. Any road blockages or closures will be temporary and typically occur during off-peak traffic hours.
The State House isn’t the only major construction project around State Circle. The Maryland Stadium Authority is overseeing construction of a new Department of Legislative Services Annapolis State Government Complex. The new building is also expected to be completed by the end of next year, said Rachelina Bonacci, an authority spokesperson. The project is funded with $120 million of state money, she said.
The original legislative services building was demolished in the summer of 2022. After assessing the condition of the 46-year-old building, officials decided it would not be possible to expand the structure to meet the needs of the growing staff. Bonacci said there were also challenges with maintaining the outdated infrastructure.
Workers recently completed most of the structural steelwork and are now upgrading leaking underground tunnels that connect several state legislature buildings.