Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Statehouse Grand Opening on Saturday

Jake Putnam photo

Statehouse Finally Open

BOISE —After more than two years behind 10 foot-high chain link fence, the Idaho Statehouse is once again open to the public. The fences quietly came down last monday while crews continued last minute landscaping and site clean-up. The old Ada County Courthouse, the temporary Capitol once in the spotlights, returns to the shadows this week as the last offices are packed up and moved out.

Visitors to the renovated Statehouse report the white marbel never looked cleaner nor whiter, the new wings are spectacular and the renovations are dazzling. Idaho's restored Statehouse will open to the public at a ceremony at noon Saturday, Jan. 9. The Idaho Legislature spent the past two Legislative sessions in the former courthouse across the street from the Statehouse.

The Statehouse expansion adds 50,000 square feet to the building, which was originally built almost a century ago. A time when all the state agencies could fit under the Dome, when Boise had just over 12-thousand residents and horses outnumbered cars 50 to 1.

Capitol Commission Communications Coordinator Gary Daniel said that the renovations were built to last."Every square foot of the building now has a 100-year life, the cost of the $120 million project makes for a good investment, It's an incredible investment if you think about what you'll get over the next generations," he added.

The most amazing feature of the Statehouse are the underground wings that stretch to the east and west of the building's old basement, now called the Garden Level. The wings feature the large committee and public hearing rooms and legislature offices. Their roofs are lined with skylights through which visitors can view the Statehouse dome.

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