Professional scaffolding installers Advantage Scaffold & Ladders arrived from Minnesota at the beginning of December and erected scaffolding in the rotunda of the courthouse in preparation for the dome restoration.
The scaffolding rises about twelve feet above the light well and gives those standing on it access to the artwork and stained glass housed in the courthouse dome.
“On January 3, stained glass contractor Conrad Schmitt will be removing the glass to Wisconsin where it will be repaired,” said Sully County Auditor Susan Lamb. “The artwork will be restored on site.”
Lamb says that the contractor estimates completion of the artwork and glass restoration by mid-February.
With a birds eye view of the artwork from the scaffolding, Lamb noted, “It’s amazing how he [artist F.C. Van Stone] painted to make it look like the art has a frame, and just the detail.”
A large piece of the paintings that was recovered several years ago is being stored in the Auditor’s vault for the artist to either restore or use as an example of what the original looked like.
Rather than take a sledge hammer to the dome cover, the wood was retained for use by the Sully County Highway Department. “[Sully County Highway Superintendent] JJ says they don’t make wood like this anymore,” said Lamb. “We told the contractor, ‘then you don’t have to haul it away,’ and we can repurpose it.”
Lamb says that First Dakota Enterprises has been an invested partner in the project, with personnel on site whenever subcontractors are at work. “It’s been an economic boost for the community, too,” said Lamb. “We’re spending a lot of money with them, and they’re reciprocating” by lodging and dining in Onida and purchasing materials here.
As the project goes forward, care will be taken to ensure that the stained glass will be backlit in such a way as to make the lightbulbs easily accessible for changing. Courthouse custodian Kyle Murphy is exploring courthouse storage areas to ensure that any hidden artifacts are restored to their original location and purpose.