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Flagpole removed from old State Capitol | News

SPRINGFIELD — People walking through downtown Springfield saw an unusual sight earlier this week when a helicopter hovering over the Old State Capitol dropped a rope and lifted the flagpole that sat atop the bronze dome.

“We removed the flagpole at the Old State Capitol in preparation for a new automated flagpole that may be up in a few months,” said Troy Gilmore, assistant superintendent of state historic sites for the Illinois Department of Conservation in Springfield. Resources.

The operation took less than 15 minutes and was part of an ongoing renovation project that has seen the historic building closed in scaffolding for about two years. The project involves fixing roof leaks, repairing and replacing windows, and replacing parts of the columns known as “capitals,” the decorative pieces at the top of Corinthian columns.

Gilmour said replacing the manually operated flagpole with an automated one will improve safety for workers who raise and lower the flag to half-staff or full-staff when the occasion calls for it.

The Old State Capitol, located a few blocks northeast of the current State House, was used by legislators from 1840 to 1876. This was the Capitol when Abraham Lincoln served in the Illinois House, and it was here that he delivered his famous “House Divided” speech in 1858 after accepting the Republican nomination for the US Senate.

Gilmore said when the Legislature vacated the building in 1876, it was purchased by Sangamon County, which operated it for the next 90 years, during which time it made several significant changes.

“The most drastic change the county made was in 1900 when they raised the building 11 feet higher than it stands today,” he said. “And it was to add another level of ground floor offices. So after 1902, you just walked into the building from the street, you didn’t even go up the steps like today.”

The State of Illinois purchased the building in 1966 and launched a three-year restoration project to return the building to its original condition, a project that involved dismantling the building and rebuilding it piece by piece.

Gilmore said the ongoing renovation project will soon move into a second phase, which will involve removing asbestos from the boiler rooms and installing new restrooms for the first time since the 1960s.

He did not offer an estimate for when the entire project will be completed.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed in more than 400 newspapers across the state and hundreds of radio and television stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.


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