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Buried treasure in the Capitol

Several hidden treasures have been uncovered during the $300 million Wyoming State Capitol renovation, including an intricate decorative wall pattern from 1888.  

The pattern was found in a room on the north side, second floor of the Capitol Rotunda — a room that has served many roles. Considered one of the most historically significant rooms in the state, in 1888 it was the Territorial House Chamber. It housed the Wyoming Constitutional Convention in 1899. The space holds memories of women’s suffrage debates. In 1890, it became the Wyoming Supreme Court Chamber. Most recently, the room was occupied by the Legislative Service Office.

History was concealed beneath layers of materials. Paint studies revealed extensive decorative paint patterns throughout the room — one of the most prominent being the trompe l’oeil pattern, which dates back to 1888. The pattern employs an art technique intended to create an optical illusion, making objects appear three-dimensional.

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Research by the Wyoming state historic preservation architect suggests the work may be that of 19th century artist Romeo Berra, who did commission work in public buildings across the Midwest and West.

The pattern offers a stirring sense of the past — a special slice of 1888 Wyoming.

The Wyoming Capitol Square Project team is investigating the cost of restoring the pattern.

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One Response to Buried treasure in the Capitol

  1. John Vincent November 11, 2017 at 10:49 am #

    Thanks to Samantha for this great piece. Governor Mead and members of the legislature should also be commended for undertaking this renovation project and preserving our history. Thanks to all. John Vincent, Riverton

    Riverton, Wyoming

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