AUGUSTA (AP) — When the coating on the Maine Statehouse dome is replaced again in 100 years, workers will come across more than just old weathered copper. They’ll also discover a time capsule.
A bipartisan group of legislative leaders Tuesday walked up the scaffolding that surrounds the dome and placed several items in a copper box, which was marked with the state’s motto, “Dirigo,” and the year, sealed shut and placed into the side of the dome where it will remain until it is found — likely more than a century from now.
The items put in the time capsule include a gavel from the speaker of the House, a copy of Tuesday’s Kennebec Journal and a copy of the Maine constitution.
With the placement of the box, workers completed the restoration of the dome, where 7,000 square feet of old green copper was replaced with shiny new metal. Work remains on the lower part of the structure with pillars, which are being repainted white. The entire project is expected to be completed in November.
Democratic House Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, one of the lawmakers on the Legislative Council who is overseeing the restoration project, said climbing to the top of the dome and leaving tokens to be found in the future was “awe inspiring.”
On Tuesday, the Legislative Council also approved a plan to buy back the old copper that was originally sold to the contractor so that it can be sold to artists and jewelers and made into souvenirs. It’s expected to cost about $21,000 to buy back the metal.
Berry said the state will first look into auctioning off the copper to artists to bring in some money before moving onto more costly parts of the art plan, like commissioning a public art piece for the Capitol complex.