Restoring Freedom at the Capitol Dome

by James R. Cagley, Pres.; Cagley & Associates, Rockville, MD,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1994, Vol. 64, Issue 6, Pg. 57-59

Document Type: Feature article


Early one morning last spring, a helicopter lifted that Statue of Freedom off its pedestal at the top of the U.S. Capitol Dome where it had stood undisturbed since shortly after the Civil War. The helicopter flew the statue to a nearby resting place to await restoration. During an inspection in 1988, workers discovered that a piece of the bronze statue was loose and that cracks had developed in the statue's cast-iron pedestal. The Architect of the Capitol asked Cagley & Associates to act as structural engineering firm for the project. Fine Objects Conservation, Inc. was hired to perform the actual restoration. Crews from the Office of the Architect restored the pedestal. The U.S. Capitol Preservation Commission provided $780,000 in privately-raised funds to cover restoration costs. Engineers from Cagley & Associates prepared the final design of the jacking platform, lifting mechanisms, lifting cradle and restoration platform and enclosure. They also developed the final rigging and monitored the actual removal and replacement of the statue. They had to deal creatively with problems for which there were no standard solutions. The historic statue was removed, repaired, restored and put back on its pedestal on October 23, 1993 to face another century.

Subject Headings: Government buildings | Domes (structure) | Aircraft and spacecraft | Architects | Inspection | Labor | Cracking | Cast iron

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