Minnesota State Capitol

St. Paul, Minnesota

Decorative sample at the Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul, Minnesota

A masterpiece of historic architecture, the 1905 Cass Gilbert Minnesota State Capitol overlooks downtown St. Paul. The Capitol is crowned by the world's largest unsupported marble dome, measuring an impressive 89 feet in diameter. The interior is equally impressive, where marble stairways, chambers, and halls, as well as elaborate decoration abound.

Seated atop Wabasha Hill, the present structure is Minnesota's third State Capitol building. The first two buildings were located in downtown St. Paul, the first was destroyed by fire, and the second was too cramped and poorly designed.

Over the years, water leaks caused deterioration of the plaster on the third floor of the Minnesota State Capitol. In 2005, Minnesota State Legislature appropriated $1.17 million for the restoration of the third floor ceiling painting and decoration. Shortly thereafter, Conrad Schmitt Studios repaired and removed damaged plaster.

With a repaired surface to work on, CSS artists began a full-scale restoration of the original 1905 designs and colors. First, the original decorative designs and colors were uncovered and documented through exposure windows and Cass Gilbert's own written specifications. The contrast between restored and deteriorated conditions in the House gallery was clearly displayed through the paint restoration sample area. CSS artists hand-mixed paint colors to match the original documented colors of lunettes, pendentives and stencils. Hand-painted trompe l'oeil provided the finishing touch to the restored interior decoration of Minnesota's State Capitol building.   

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