The University faces the same challenges as any homeowner when it comes to building maintenance. Of course, the scale of UVA’s projects is significantly larger and, in the case of the work needed for the Rotunda, much more expensive.
In September, the Board of Visitors approved a $22.9 million plan to renovate and repair the Rotunda. The first major work on the Rotunda since the mid-1970s restoration, the project includes replacing the roof and restoring the capitals on the building’s columns.
“The dome roof on the Rotunda is metal and 35 years old,” says David Neuman, architect for the University. “It has gone well beyond its life expectancy.”
The capitals on the Rotunda columns are cracking and currently wrapped in black netting to protect passersby from falling pieces of decorative carving. They must be replaced or repaired.
The University will seek $12.95 million from the state for the project, with the remainder matched by private funds and donations.
While the Rotunda needs work, the nearby statue of its designer is in great shape after a thorough cleaning and repair. Conservators washed the bronze Thomas Jefferson statue with a mild detergent and applied a coat of hot wax, which inhibits corrosion and brings out the luster of the bronze.
“Corrosion changes the metal’s color to a teal green,” says Lindy Gulick, assistant conservator with Conservation Solutions. “Now it’s a nice green-black color.”
Some elements on the base of the statue have disappeared over time, and conservators replaced two swords, a crown and the scales of justice.
“We had to use old photographs of the statue to determine the proper size of each item,” Gulick says.