Colorado State Capitol Dome

Year Listed: 2010
County: Denver County
Construction Date: 1908 – dome first gilded
Threat When Listed: Deterioration
Status: Saved – 2015



Colorado’s gold-plated Capitol Dome is an iconic symbol of unparalleled historical significance in the state. Originally intended by architect Elijah E. Myers to be copper-plated, the citizenry of Colorado demanded something grander and more fitting for their statehouse. So with a hefty donation from mining magnates of the time, the Dome was first gilded in 1908 with 200 ounces of 24-karat gold. As one of only eleven capitol buildings in the nation to feature a gold-plated dome, the Colorado Capitol is an architectural and historical treasure. Over the years the Capitol Dome fell into serious disrepair with the cast iron superstructure rusting to the point that an architectural inspection team declared that “the potential loss of strength as a result of deterioration is a significant hazard to the building and its occupants.”

In 2007, a nearly ten-pound chunk of cast iron fell from the Dome, which prompted work crews to install netting in order to catch falling debris. The economic crisis in 2010 seriously hampered the ability of the State Legislature to fund the needed repairs, which were estimated at between $11 and $30 million. In early 2009, the Colorado State Historical Fund approved a $3 million grant, but the Legislature was unable to reach an agreement to contribute $8 million in matching funds. As a result, the Dome’s condition continued to deteriorate and the architectural inspection team concluded, “the entire Dome will require extensive work to repair current damage and preserve the feature for future generations. This work is time sensitive because the rate of decay is increasing with the passing of each winter.” Working in close cooperation with the Capitol Building Advisory Committee, Colorado Preservation, Inc. agreed to lead an advocacy and outreach campaign to raise funds for, and awareness about, the Dome. The campaign included working with the public, legislators, Colorado corporations and other preservation organizations on this important and desperately needed undertaking.

Work on the cast iron structure of the Capitol Dome began in 2011. The restoration was made possible by funding from the State Historical Fund, general fund, donations from businesses and citizens of Colorado who participated in the “Share in the Care Colorado” campaign lead by Colorado Preservation, Inc.

Once completed, the project repaired deteriorated portions of the cast iron dome enclosure; replaced the copper above the cast iron; gilded the new copper dome with gold; restored the windows, and restored the interior balcony area.  The dome was gilt with gold leaf donated by AngloGold Ashanti/Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company, mined from the Teller County mine in Cripple Creek, CO and prepared in Florence, Italy. The finished restoration allowed this site to be moved to a Saved status in 2015.