In the early 2000’s, The University of Iowa began yet another round of renovations (the previous ones were in the 1920’s and 1970’s) to upgrade Old Capitol. Part of the repairs called for asbestos to be removed from the dome/cupola area.
On November 20, 2001, contractors using open flame torches and heat guns on the cupola supporting the building’s golden dome accidentally set it on fire. The fire was limited to the cupola of the building, thanks to a concrete slab firewall that had been installed during the 1920’s rehabilitation. The bell (1864) at the top of Old Capitol was irreparably damaged, the dome was destroyed, and the tens of thousands of gallons of water used to douse the blaze caused major damage inside.
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