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Kansas State Capitol nearly triples its visitors following 13-year renovation

Kansas statehouse architect Barry Greis supervised the renovation of the Capitol.
Kansas statehouse architect Barry Greis supervised the renovation of the Capitol. The Star

In 2013, the Kansas State Capitol was at the tail end of a 13-year, $323 million basement-to-dome renovation.

The lengthy list of renovations included updates to infrastructure, construction of a new visitor center an underground parking garage, and the restoration of original features such as paint stenciling. The Capitol’s leaky green copper roof and dome were also replaced with new ones the color of a freshly minted penny.

The renovations, which were detailed in a Feb. 16 Star Magazine cover story, are now fully complete — and the number of annual visitors to the building has nearly tripled.

As of Nov. 30, the number of people who toured the Kansas Statehouse in 2014 stood at 88,674, nearly 55,000 more than last year.

“It’s a beautiful building,” says visitor center coordinator Andrea Burton. Working there “is fun every day, because there’s someone new coming in saying ‘I haven’t been here for years.’”

The Capitol has added a Bleeding Kansas tour that focuses on the “Tragic Prelude” mural by John Steuart Curry on the second-floor rotunda as well as two abolitionist artifacts in the visitor center: John Brown’s sword and a page from the original Kansas constitution, which banned slavery.

The statehouse also offers free daily dome tours for those brave enough to scale a narrow staircase to the top of the building.

“The bright, shiny dome has lost its copper penny look,” says statehouse architect Barry Greis.

Greis says it will take 40 to 50 years for the dome to achieve its final green patina. The Capitol’s original dome turned green in about 10 years, he said, because of coal and sulfur pollution in the air.

“The air is so clean now compared to the 1900s,” Greis says.

Contact Sarah Gish via email at sgish@kcstar.com or tweet @sarah_gish.

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