January 4, 2013
The renovation of the University of Virginia Rotunda is making significant progress. The black plastic is starting to be peeled away so the finished product can be seen.
In its long history, the Rotunda has been through a fire, leaks, and corrosion. Now the workers are trying to get it back as Thomas Jefferson intended.
There are nearly a dozen carpenters and roofers doing the work. They have been dismantling the steps at the base of the dome. Those steps were installed in 1976 with a metal ring inside, but that ring is now corroded.
The workers have ripped out all the corrosion and replaced the concrete and brick. Now they are putting on the copper, which is the final layer. The renovated dome will have better ventilation to avoid corrosion in the future.
The workers say it's a pleasure to work on the university's most important landmark.
"It's such an honor," said Joseph Lahendro, a historic preservation architect. "It's so unique to be able to work on Jefferson's building. Also to have these incredible views."
"They love the weather up here, in the wintertime especially," Lahendro joked.
The crew is hoping to have all the scaffolding removed and the roof completed by graduation in May. However, Lahendro says it is difficult to nail down an exact timeline. The work may not be completed until summer.