‘Once-in-a-generation’: $2.2M State House marble cleaning underway
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The early stages of a “once-in-a-generation” marble cleaning project are underway at the Rhode Island State House.
The $2.2 million extensive restoration began in late July when Johnston-based East Coast Masonry & Restoration Inc. took over.
Meanwhile, Senior Principal at DBVW Architects Martha Werenfels, serves as the principal architect.
Describing the two-level process of marble cleaning, she told ABC 6 News, “Level one cleaning is quite extensive. It involves setting up racks on the building that start at the top, and are slowly lowered down the sides of the building. Those racks spray water for seven hours. This is what loosens the biofilm on the building.”
Werenfels and her team have slowly begun level two: spraying hot water over the loosened biofilm.
“Approximately a quarter of the lower portion of the building [is finished],” said Werenfels. “But after that, we’ll have to go up to the dome. Cleaning the dome will involve suspending spray racks from a crane because that is the most cost-effective way to access the dome.”
While marble cleaning has been done partially in the past, Werenfels said an extensive project like this has not been done since around the 1980’s.
The State House served as a national, architectural beacon since it was completed in 1904. Governor Dan McKee cited this as the first of many future projects to restore the State House.
“We were founders for our democracy. We’re part of that history. We want that reflected as a part of our state house,” McKee added.
A timeline for the completion of the marble cleaning has yet to be determined.