Inside the Montana State Capitol (Part 2) - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Inside the Montana State Capitol (Part 2)

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Montana's State Capitol has evolved since it was completed in 1901. Montana's State Capitol has evolved since it was completed in 1901.

Montana's State Capitol has evolved since it was completed in 1901.  

Its wings were added in 1911 and it was initially renovated in the 1960’s.

"A lot of the decoration you see here today disappeared, in fact all of it disappeared.  So one of the goals of the 2000 remodel project was to bring back the historic flavor of the Capitol," says State Architect Tom O’Connell.

O’Connell has seen a lot of these changes firsthand during his 45 years on the job.

In particular, how the Capitol went from its 1960's era 'modernization' back to its near original design, in part thanks to state Senator Charles Bovey.

"It was a lot of 1800's, early 1900's fixtures in here, be that light fixtures or stained glass, that Senator Bovey basically salvaged from things that were being torn out of here,” says O’Connell.

Senator Bovey owned Nevada City and Virginia City at the time of the 1960's renovation and stored the items he salvaged there.  The state's purchase of the two cities from the descendants of the late senator in the 1990’s included getting those items back.

As O’Connell explains, "It let us match colors and patterns and things like that, that would have been lost if those artifacts wouldn't have been available to us...we got stained glass back from Nevada City, we got pieces of the wood back that frame the barrel vault.  So we were able to get profiles of the wood and to get patterns and colors of glass."

Among the most impressive pieces Senator Bovey acquired, the chandeliers that hang in the old Supreme Court chambers and the Senate chambers.

"This chandelier hung in the nickelodeon down in Nevada City and there was all these music machines and different things around it and hung right in the center of the room.”        

One was destroyed by fire, but the other was in perfect condition so a replica could be made.

Just another design element returned to its original beauty with the help of Sen. Bovey and his love of the Montana State Capitol.

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