Governor Dan McKee announced that starting this month, the 125 years old Rhode Island State House will have the entire surface of its Georgian marble professionally cleaned.
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Johnston-based East Coast Masonry & Restoration Inc. is charged with performing the work. The general contractor has a track record of demonstrated experience working on similar historical projects, such as the RISD Fletcher Building and Roger Williams Park Temple of Music.
“We in Rhode Island are fortunate to have one of the most beautiful state houses in the country,” said Governor McKee.
“This signature building is picturesque all year round, with one of the largest self-supported marble domes in the world and the Independent Man atop it, looking out across all of Providence and Rhode Island. However, we know that the building’s façade is in need of a thorough cleaning after generations of weathering.
"I thank DCAMM, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, and all of our partners who are seeing to it that the State House is as beautiful outside as it is inside.”
The RI Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, the stewards of the project, employed the Providence architectural firm, Durkee Brown Viveiros Werenfels Architects, in consultation with the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, The Newport Historical Society and the National Parks Service, to develop a plan that would not harm the marble.
The State House marble was cut and placed about 125 years ago, and the building had been sandblasted twice, but it now is coated with layers of residual dirt from 125 years of weathering.
The expectation is that the building’s marble should be noticeably cleaner, restoring it to a close facsimile of what it once looked like when it was first built.
The cleaning process will involve utilization of a very low-pressure nebulous mist spray focused on exterior masonry surfaces followed by a low-pressure rinse with a handheld wand. Utilizing steam, the wand will also be used for additional cleaning in areas of heavy soiling.
Some areas of concentrated discoloration related to specific contaminants will be cleaned with mild chemical solutions or detergents.
The cleaning project will cost $2,241,000 and be funded by the Rhode Island Capital funded Asset Protection Program (RICAP). ■