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Front Page » January 15, 2008 » Local News » A Capitol Project: Renovation on Capitol Complete, the Pe...
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A Capitol Project: Renovation on Capitol Complete, the People's House Reopens


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The Capitol is now one of the most earthquake proof buildings in the state.

The State of Utah recently welcomed back the State Capitol building. The building has been under reconstruction the past three years to bring it up to earthquake standards and a general facelift. Dick Nourse welcomed the crowd to the capitol where a rededication ceremony took place on Jan. 4, statehood day. "Citizens of the Great State of Utah! Welcome to this re-dedication ceremony of the Utah State Capitol-the People's House. At this very hour, school children across the State of Utah are gathered together in class rooms viewing this ceremony via television.

"Many of these children have been given bells to ring with us as we open this celebration of return and renewal. Together with the First Lady of the State of Utah, Mrs. Mary Kay Huntsman, area bell choirs from around the state, The Cathedral of the Madeleine Choir, the International Children's Choir, the Bells on Temple Square, the 23rd Army Band and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, we will ring in the New Year and herald the Opening and re-dedication of this-The People's House," said Nourse.

"Anthem for a New Year - "Into Light" was commissioned and composed especially for today's re-dedication ceremony. With words by Utah's Poet Laureate, Dr. Katharine Coles and music by Kurt Bestor - Anthem for a New Year celebrates the darkness and cold of winter reawakening to the joys of a new beginning - a new dawn lifting us back into light," said Nourse.

David Hart was the architect for the renewal project. He said, "Governor Huntsman, President Valentine, Speaker Curtis, Chief Justice Durham, President Hinckley, elected officials, honored guests and citizens of the State of Utah. We gather here today 91 years, two months and 27 days to the hour from the date and time of when the Utah State Capitol was first dedicated on Monday, Oct. 9, 1916, to re-dedicate the newly restored and seismically retrofitted Utah State Capitol. This, by any standard, is an epic day. It is so because of the original vision of Richard Kletting; and because of the dedicated work of thousands of architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors and UCI. To each and every one who has played a role in this nine-year journey, I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is a team unprecedented in their commitment, skill and untiring care of this building.

"Tomorrow, the doors of this building will once again be open to the people of Utah. They will come to know, as I know, the detailed workmanship that has gone into the Capitol. For me and all those that have worked on the Capitol, it has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The date 1914 was when the cornerstone of the building was dedicated.

"For those in the Rotunda seated here today, and for those of you who will visit the capitol over the next year, I encourage you to take note of the decorative arts, the detailed craftsmanship, the beautiful marble and the exquisite light fixtures. These remarkable items have been restored to their original conditions, colors and textures. The quality of this historic restoration ranks among the best in the world.

"The story of the Capitol restoration includes not only that which you can see, but that which you can not.

"It includes 285 base isolators upon which the Capitol now safely sits, and hundreds of miles of wire, making this Capitol one of the most technologically advanced buildings in the United States, while remaining true to its historic integrity.

"I'm equally proud to report that after nearly 100 months of planning and construction, we are on budget and on schedule. Now, as we re-dedicate the Capitol and reopen it to the public, it is important that we always remember this is more than a building. It is a special place. It is - the people's house. It is a temple to democracy. It is the physical manifestation of the constitution and our rights. Its design is open, representing the open nature of our government. It is accessible to all, symbolizing government by the people, and for the people. It is where we gather to freely speak our minds.

"We, the stewards of this Capitol building, must now take on the responsibility to treat it well; to care for it and respect it. By doing so we can ensure many more years of service to this great state of Utah. Thank you for the privilege it has been to be the architect of the Capitol. Governor and first Lady Huntsman--On behalf of all those involved in this monumental project we present you --- as the representatives of the people of Utah, the key to this beautiful Capitol," said Hart.

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said, "My friends and fellow Utahns - today we celebrate Utah's 112th birthday. How appropriate therefore that we have gathered to rededicate this great symbol of statehood-our capitol.

"We are honored to have with us past Governors, Legislators, and Judges including those who now hold those positions of trust. Among their ranks is my good friend Haven Barlow, whose work in the legislature spanned a third of our state's history and the administrations of six Governors. Thanks to Haven, and all of you for service well done. On this historic occasion, we warmly welcome all Utah citizens. To those who work hard to raise their families and support their communities - we offer our deep sense of gratitude. Let's not forget, you are the ones who have provided the resources that have made this rebuilding possible. This is your state capitol - this is the people's house. We also recognize our fourth grade students who are watching from their classrooms.

"They represent the hundreds of thousands of young people in our state as well as generations yet unborn.We also thank those teachers among us, who are playing perhaps the most important role of all - molding and shaping our leaders of tomorrow. This building exudes our long held belief in public service.

"It is where our youth will long be inspired as their footsteps echo through this very rotunda.

"Just as we reflect on the work of those who came before us-these students will be the ones who judge what we do going forward. Students, I hope we earn a passing grade, 156 years ago, Utah's first Territorial Capitol building was constructed in the small town of Fillmore.

"After one legislative session, many pioneer lawmakers complained that Fillmore was located too far from Utah's population base. A vote was taken and the territorial seat of government was moved to Salt Lake City. My Fillmore ancestors, I'm sure, were divided on whether losing the capitol was good or bad. Some may have been concerned about the loss of prestige, while others were no doubt delighted to get all those political rascals out of town.

The grand building is once again ready to serve the citizens of the State of Utah.

"Utah did not build another permanent capitol for 50 years. Legislative, executive, and judicial functions were carried out in various buildings including the Social Hall, the Council Hall, and the Salt Lake City and County Building. In 1907, Governor John Cutler urged the legislature to build a significant capitol. The deep depression that existed at the time of statehood had ended, and Utah needed - and deserved a fitting seat of government.

"In 1909, under the leadership of Gov. William Spry, a committee was established to accept a design and then build the capitol. Financing was secured in the form of a one million dollar bond - paid for primarily by the estate of former Union Pacific President E. H. Harriman. In 1916, at a cost of more than $2.7 million dollars the capitol was finished. However, the original master plan was left undone.

"Today, our capitol is not only retrofitted to withstand an earthquake, remodeled to make government more efficient and refurbished to erase the effects of time, but it is also completed esthetically, based on the vision and planning of our forebearers. We applaud the thousands of people who have made this rededication possible. Skilled craftspeople like Justin Davis, Todd Stubbs, Ryan Warner, Tracey Yearout and Havier Godina. They are just some of the hundreds who contributed greatly to this monumental accomplishment.

"Soon, the legislative session will begin and the house of the people will return to its full purpose.

"How great it will be to hear once again red-hot debates on transportation funding on a Friday afternoon and see students dancing to the strains of the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the junior prom on a Friday night.

"How fitting it will be for us all to again welcome presidents and prime ministers, protestors and petitioners - and of course, fourth grade students on their Utah History Field Trips, to this place - to the people's house. It is our seat of government, and our affirmation of democracy. Again. Welcome to all. It is good to be back home," said Gov. Huntsman.



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