The last rays of the setting sun illuminate the Wyoming Capitol in Cheyenne and its shrouded west wing. Behind the shroud, work is underway to repair the 130-year-old building’s sandstone walls. (Dan Neal/WyoFile)

With its west wing under a shroud, the renovation of Wyoming’s Capitol building is in full swing.

While the state Legislature labors at Wyoming’s temporary capitol on the east side of Cheyenne, visible progress has been made on the Capitol Square Project.

The renovation, rehabilitation, and construction components of the $300 million project involve both the Capitol and the Herschler Building, which stands north of the Capitol.

Sandstone for the rehabilitation was cut in the original quarry south of Rawlins, state officials say. Inside the building, ceilings lowered during the last renovation in the 1970s have been removed, exposing the full height of original windows and archways in other parts of the building. Many of the original skylights will be returned to use.

During a media tour of the project, Special Assistant Attorney General Mike O’Donnell said the original Supreme Court chambers on the second floor with its third-floor gallery may prove to be the gem of the renovation.

The renovation also has uncovered old brick coal chutes, a well-preserved door enclosed in a wall built in 1944, and parts of opera posters on the planks that made the ceiling in a “garden level” room.

The east wing of the Herschler Building has been skinned to its super-structure. The atrium that connected the two wings of the building has been demolished, restoring the view of the Capitol from Capitol Avenue north of 26th Street.

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The central utility plant is being replaced and relocated near the east wing of the Herschler Building. The tunnel connecting the two buildings will be remodeled with large skylights. An auditorium, additional meeting rooms, and a student learning center will be built as part of the tunnel project but may not be finished depending upon the availability of contingency funds, according to materials provided for the media tour.

Wendy Madsen of the Legislative Service Office said the construction and renovation work will cost about $219 million.

The state will spend another $81.5 million: roughly $30 million for design fees; $16.5 million to accommodate the Legislature off-site at the Jonah Business Center and pay for moving executive branch offices elsewhere in Cheyenne for nearly five years; $7 million in administrative overhead, $8 million for furnishings and equipment; $20 million in contingency funds.

The renovation should be complete in 2019.

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