Renovations nearly done, State House to reopen

December 18, 2008|By Gadi Dechter | Gadi Dechter,gadi.dechter@baltsun.com

Gov. Martin O'Malley and dozens of others who work out of the nation's oldest operating capitol will begin moving back into the Maryland State House early next week, as a more than $10 million renovation project to the stately building ends in the days before the legislature convenes for its 426th session.

"I never thought we'd move back," O'Malley joked, brandishing an oversized golden key given to him by the Department of General Services at yesterday's Board of Public Works meeting.

Completed in 1779, the State House has been shuttered since April while workers replaced its 40-year-old piping system, which was in danger of rupturing. The governor and presiding officers of the General Assembly have been working out of temporary quarters in Baltimore and Annapolis.

General Services spokesman Dave Humphrey called the project "a massive undertaking with an immovable deadline."

"We had eight months to work inside Maryland's most historic building, and we had to complete a task that many did not think could be accomplished in the time allotted," he said.

Some work on the State House will likely continue into the new year, Humphrey said, but the bulk of construction should be complete by tomorrow.

Since 1997, General Services has replaced the acorn atop the wooden dome, repaired windows and refinished worn surfaces inside the building. In addition to repairing the heating and cooling pipes, workers have also in recent months replaced thousands of feet of electrical wires, upgraded carpets and lighting and installed a public women's restroom on the ground floor, Humphrey said.

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