In that year a disastrous
fire gutted the tower and the fourth floor of the West and connecting wings.
In 1939, new concrete floors were constructed by the W.P.A. on the third and
fourth floors of the East Wing where the Senate chamber and galleries were
once located, and new boilers and a steam piping system were installed
throughout the building’s fabric.
Other significant changes also took
place at this time, including a less interesting elevator, marble restroom
facilities, bronze exterior doors, and various mechanical and electrical
The earthquake of 1949 resulted in the loss of 10 of the 12 towers and
eliminated the rotunda at the East Wing center, the House chamber and
related galleries at the south end of the East Wing.
Many undocumented minor and major changes also occurred over the
building’s long life span, including wall and partition relocations and
various modifications to mechanical and electrical systems. The earthquake
of 1965 caused relatively minor damage to the much-distressed old building.
Several studies were commissioned by the state in the 1970s to determine
to what possible use the building could be put, what type of repairs this
structure would of necessity have to undergo to remain in service, and to
what extent such repairs could enhance and affect a renewed lease on life.
The Legislature approved renovation money, but work was delayed because
the state had no place to move the staff.
The employee problem was finally solved when the workers were moved to
temporary facilities at the Thurston Airdustrial Park in Tumwater, and in
March 1981 the initial phase of the Old Capitol Building Renovation Project
began. This first phase included seismic reinforcement, rough-in and
mechanical work, and cleaning of the building, including the exterior stone
work. Phase I also provided for the construction of two towers on the east
side of the building, for air intake and exhaust, which replicate the two
towers on the west side. The towers house a heat-recovery chiller as part of
the new heating and cooling system. The sandstone slabs for the stonework
came from a quarry in Wilkeson, a small town in Pierce County near Buckley.
During the final phase of the project, which began in February 1982, the
walls were replastered, the ceilings hung, and two new elevators, a new
skylight and a new copper roof were installed. Originally, the building
sported a copper shingle roof. It had been reroofed in slate tiles, but when
the contract for remodeling was let, a plate copper roof was specified. The
new roof, which is crimped on the outside and clipped on from the inside,
resulting in no nail holes for water to seep in, was chosen because of its
cost effectiveness and authenticity.
The main stairs and corridors are once again open, as in
the original design of the building. Doors are all of oak, with oak trim.
The conference rooms are named for past state superintendents.
The $9 million project was completed in February 1983, and the building
was rededicated on February 21, the holiday marking Washington’s birthday.