A historic project at the South Dakota State Capitol building has begun.
Workers are removing century old stained glass windows so a restoration company can fix them and put them back in place. They’re removing windows from the rotunda dome this week.
Removing glass from the rotunda dome involves lowering windows nearly 100 feet to the floor, a place they haven't been in more than 100 years.
"It opens your eyes to see how much is put into it," Naomi Kulow said.
Kulow is visiting South Dakota and was surprised to run into the restoration project at the capitol building Monday.
The Wisconsin-based company working on the project has teamed with a local contractor to remove the stained glass. They've placed scaffolding and planks for workers in the dome and are lowering glass through a secured box.
From there, the company will haul the glass to its studio to be restored.
Conrad Schmitt Studios has completed several projects in South Dakota dating back to the early 1917. But this project is a little bit different than some of those others.
"You're looking at a state capitol. Certainly the stakes are a little higher and we want to do a good job," Kevin Grabowski said.
And the project poses multiple challenges. The windows have been compromised over the years, making them more vulnerable. They're also very large and shaped to fit a dome, making them harder to handle.
The company has added additional workers to compensate and is drawing on its 130 years of experience. Some of those watching the process say they've noticed.
"It's wonderful. They did a really great job. It's been amazing to see the ease and the care of the product and watching the glass come down from the dome," Nell Rae Forrest said.
It should be going back up restored in June. The restoration project as a whole will take more than a year.
Conrad Schmitt Studios will replace parts of the windows that hold all the glass together and it will add frames. The State's goal is to have the project finished before its 125th anniversary of statehood next November.