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Capitol's "Disco ball" raised and lighted in historic ceremony

  • Blog Post by: Jim Ragsdale
  • January 17, 2013 - 8:40 PM

Legislators, worker bees, lobbyists and visitors gathered around the rotunda of the Minnesota state Capitol on Thursday to witness a rare sight.

The Capitol's historic chandelier, grounded for two years for repairs, was raised and illuminated.

"Thou shalt be their northern star!" sang vocalist Erik Pearson, and a switch was thrown. The chandelier, known as the "disco ball" to Capitol regulars, glowed from its perch high above the floor of the Capitol rotunda.

 

 

This sight was doubly rare.

The chandelier is only lit on statehood day and other special occasions. And it has only been lowered and raised five times since it was installed in December of 1904. The last such transit was in 1979.

The chandelier and its electric lighting system, gleaming through 48,000 crystal beads, was in dry dock while the roof was repaired and new windows installed in the dome. While it sat in a box for viewing in the Capitol, it was given a thorough cleaning.

It ws known back in the day as an "electrolier," quite a tourist attraction, said Brian Pease, site manager at the Capitol for the state historical society.

"It's time to bring the electrolier back to its home - the top of the rotunda," he announced to the crowd, and the ball moved silently skyward, catching the sun through the dome's encircling windows, and finally halting near the apex.

  

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