ST. PAUL - A celebration is planned for the fall of 2017 to celebrate the re-opening of the Minnesota Capitol.
The building, which opened in 1905 after a $4.5 million construction project, is all but closed as hundreds of construction workers do everything from updating obsolete systems to restoring artwork. The restoration's latest price tag is $310 million.
The celebration planned for next year received the House's blessing Thursday on a 107-22 vote. It’s cost is estimated at $400,000 to be covered private donations. The Senate already passed the bill, sending it to Gov. Mark Dayton for his expected signature.
"It will allow the people of Minnesota to celebrate and party like it is 1905," Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said.
Urdahl said no tax money will be involved in the celebration and no decisions have been made about what will happen at the celebration.
While the Capitol is planned to open in January, "it will only be 95 percent finished," he said, so the grand re-opening is planned for the fall when all work should be finished. A modest "welcome back" ceremony is planned for January.
Dayton said he wants people to understand the Capitol will not be done when it re-opens.
"I don't want people to have an unpleasant surprise," he said.
Thursday’s vote came in the House chamber, the only area of the Capitol open, other than tunnels in the building's basement that allow quick passage from building to building in the Capitol complex. The chamber is open when representatives are in session this year. Senators meet across the street in the new Minnesota Senate Building while the Capitol is closed.
The project is to be nearly wrapped up by year's end, although up to 75 workers could remain on the job after Jan. 1. State officials say they tentatively plan to move the House, Senate and governor's office into the newly finished building over New Year's weekend so the Legislature may convene Jan. 3, as constitutionally mandated.
Work has been done on the outside of the building, where marble and stone were crumbling and falling off. Inside, workers are updating aged infrastructure like corroded plumbing and outdated electrical systems.
Both inside and out, craftsmen are restoring art to original condition.