While benches, desks and furniture line the Capitol’s hallways, teams renovating the House’s chamber are on track to install new carpets and restore members’ desks ahead of the Sept. 14 veto session.
The House and Senate chambers are being renovated during the recess as lawmakers are absent. Both chambers get new carpets and restored desks, and the House installs a new Voting Committee.
With the house’s carpet and desks already removed, teams on Tuesday and Wednesday drilled holes through several layers of concrete that make up the chamber floor.
Dana Rademan Miller, office manager and property manager, said crews discovered ducts running under the floor of the house after pulling up the carpet. And under most desks was a 5 inch opening in the floor to run cables.
About 30 of the 163 desks in the house didn’t have holes big enough to run cables, Miller said, so teams widened them on Tuesday to fit a sleeve and securely route the connections.
“We found that there were probably multiple layers of flooring added, so some of the concrete has a lot of aggregate in it,” she said.
Carpet pads will be arriving at the Capitol soon, Miller said, and the carpet itself is scheduled to ship in the first week of August. The carpet that Miller says she is most excited about installing was designed by the Capitol Commission. It is wool, red, and features prominent state symbols such as the dogwood and oak leaf.
“It’s going to complement the chamber, and that’s going to be nice to look at,” she said.
Miller said the House of Representatives is on schedule to have the carpet laid and desks back in place by the time lawmakers return to the veto session in mid-September.
Home desks haven’t been worked on in 30 years, Miller said, and some have cracked drawers, chipped wood and nicked surfaces. All 163 desks, executed in groups, will be restored and refurbished by a St. Louis firm.
Returning legislators and visitors will also enter a renovated House Lounge, which gets a new ceiling paint and carpet.
During a color analysis, the Capitol Commission found that the House Lounge ceiling used to be a deep, dark blue-green color, which Miller says may have been a recommendation from Thomas Hart Benton, the artist who created the “Social History of Missouri” mural in the lounge.
“So we matched the color and had that painted, and it’s beautiful,” Miller said. “It’s amazing how much it complements this mural.”
The new rug that comes in the home lounge will have the same pattern as the new rug that will be installed in the home closet but will be a deep teal color to match the ceiling.
Miller said the House Lounge will open after the carpet is laid, which should be around September.
Renovations at the Capitol will continue after the veto session and will be completed before the next legislative session in January.
The House of Representatives will replace its prominent electronic voting boards and the Senate will install its new carpet after September.
The existing voting bodies are 25 years old and “technology-wise, they’re dinosaurs,” Miller said.
Replacing the Senate carpet will be a less intensive project because it’s a smaller chamber and senators don’t have to worry about a connection to a voting body, Miller said. The Senate is sticking to the tradition of voting and making microphones a primary consideration when wiring.
Senate Administrator Patrick Baker said the Senate carpet and desks would be removed Monday after the veto session ended. The chamber benches would also be reupholstered and upholstered, he said, which hasn’t happened in 20 years.
Baker said the upholstery work will be done on-site in the Senate chambers.