AUGUSTA, Maine — Legislative leaders Monday unanimously supported spending $1.2 million to resurface the aging dome atop the Maine State House in Augusta, a move that will change the dome’s green color to brown for decades.
Members of the Legislative Council, which includes the 10 legislative leaders from both parties, signed off on the move at a meeting Monday afternoon. The work is likely to begin in about a year.
Consultants have told state officials that the 104-year-old copper dome is nearly 30 years past its life expectancy. It is pockmarked with dents from long-ago hailstorms, scarred with numerous patch jobs and over the years has become thinner and thinner due to corrosion. David Boulter, executive director of the Legislative Council, has said letting the problem linger longer would put the dome’s understructure at risk.
The cost of the project can likely be covered by the State House’s normal maintenance fund, so it wouldn’t require extra appropriations from the state budget or bonds, according to Boulter.
Once the copper atop the dome is replaced, the dome would appear brown rather than its current green. The color would gradually switch back to green over the course of about four decades as the copper oxidizes.
The Legislative Council approved the copper sheathing replacement at the recommendation of the council’s facilities committee.
“There are no feasible alternatives and replacement is necessary and appropriate, given the age and condition,” said Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, the House majority leader.