DENVER (KDVR) – There are many things to look at and ponder upon while driving through the history-riddled downtown Denver area.
One of those that might catch your eye more so than others is the Colorado Capitol, which carries a resemblance similar to that of the United States Capitol and has a dome as gold as the sun passing overhead.
The dome of the structure sitting along East Colfax Avenue appears this color because it has been gilded with 24-karat gold. Your next thought upon gathering this tidbit of information might be, “why?”
Pursuing the answer to that reasonable question will land you deep in Colorado’s gold mining history, in the years that followed the 1859 Gold Rush that instigated Colorado’s initial flourishment.
According to officials at the State Capitol, the dome’s copper panels were gilded back in 1908, 14 years after the government building was opened for use in 1894. It has since undergone four separate regilding projects.
The structure’s architect, Elijah E. Meyers, had designed the dome with a copper exterior in mind. However, residents from across the state wanted the dome to bear a detail that reflected a reference to what helped build the region. That’s when a proposal of adding gold to the decor was adopted.
Colorado Preservation Incorporated said that the gold initially installed came from a Colorado mining company named Cripple Creek & Victor Mine. The company donated 200 ounces of the 24-karat gold for the project and would also donate to the dome restoration project that was launched in 2010.
The preservation organization outlined an incident in 2007, when a large 10-pound piece of cast iron fell from the dome’s interior onto the observation area. After an architecture crew inspected the damage and came to the conclusion that the entire dome needed extensive work to make sure the structure would be preserved going forward.
Evergreene, the company that took part in the restoration of the dome on two separate occasions, was part of the replacement project for the 11,000-square-foot dome back in 2013. The company sent raw gold that was given to it by the Anglo Gold Ashanti Mining Company over to Florence, Italy, where it was melted and reshaped into the gold leaf sheets we see pinned to the dome today.
Today, the government structure that houses the governor, the Colorado General Assembly, the lieutenant governor and the treasurer sits shimmering at the edge of Civic Center Park, triggering unattended memories of the hard-working Coloradans who made up the mining industry. The industry that led to metaphorical gilding of our state to the rest of the nation, and doesn’t it appear better for it.