Indoor Work Complete, Old State Capitol Reopens To Tours

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois' Old State Capitol has re-opened to visitors after interior renovations were completed. Visitors will see a new feature, an education gallery and video room.

Exterior work on the dome of the building continues, but indoor plaster work and painting is finished, allowing the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to open for tours on Thursday.

Its hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

The building served as the Illinois state Capitol from 1840 to 1876. Abraham Lincoln served in the state Legislature there and in 1858, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, delivered his famous “House Divided” speech in the Hall of Representatives.

When work began in March, officials indicated the building would only be closed through April. But officials said the project met with unforeseen delays, according to historic sites superintendent Justin Blandford. Combined with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the re-opening was delayed.

The $1.5 million project is under the management of the Illinois Capital Development Board. It involves installing a new roof on the drum that supports the capitol dome and restoration of the drum's columns and windows.

The education gallery and video room details the history of the building, said Von Bandy, state director of land management. An 11-minute video highlights the site's significance both in the 19th century and today.

Work on the outside of the dome is marked by the construction scaffolding that surrounds it.