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Aug 20, 2013

By: Jeri Thomas ( Grabowski of Conrad Schmitt Studios holds a glass panel

PIERRE, S.D. - (DRG News) The process started in earnest yesterday to begin removing stained glass panels from the Capitol Rotunda dome-as the century old features are to be restored and re-installed in the coming months.  The Capitol also contains stained glass in the House and Senate chambers and above the grand marble staircase and the years have taken their toll on the all the glass since the panels were installed in 1909.

Workers with Conrad Schmitt Studios of Milwaukee, Wisconsin began work yesterday to bring panels down 96 feet from the rotunda dome to the floor.  Panels were removed from the dome, a special wooden crate was raised from the floor up to the dome, a panel was placed in the box and the crate was then lowered slowly to the rotunda floor and the panel was taken out so the box could be raised again.  The historic stained glass will eventually be transported to Milwaukee for cleaning, repair and restoration.

Mike Mueller of the Bureau of Administration says a special system had to be put together to remove the glass panels from the rotunda dome.


Mueller says 16 panels that create the "eye" of the rotunda were taken out of place Thursday and Friday but they remained in the dome until they could be brought down yesterday.  Kevin Grabowski, project director from Conrad Schmitt Studios said yesterday that the dome portion of the project is the most complicated of the Capitol's four areas where glass will be removed.


Grabowski says the panels are showing their age and are in need of some attention.


Lights that used to illuminate the panels in the rotunda dome no longer work and the state is considering adding a new lighting system in the dome to highlight the beauty of the panels.    Grabowski says the lighting, combined with the cleaning and restoration work on the panels will likely make a difference in how they currently look from afar.


Plans call for all of the stained glass in the rotunda dome to be removed by the end of the week.  The spaces will be replaced by specially cut wood pieces.  Grabowski says once the work is done, the state will have some piece of mind knowing that the stained glass pieces are very stable and will remain so into the future.  Conrad Schmitt Studios has set up a blog to offer updates on the progress of the restoration project.  The blog is available at


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