CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The man who oversaw the 1989-90 gilding of the Capitol dome is back in Charleston for the first time in nearly two decades -- and isn't entirely happy with the current appearance of the dome.
"It's the uniqueness of a completely gilded dome," said Emmanuel Tsitsilianos, owner of International Restoration Services. "It's the loss of a great, great uniqueness."
Some 23 years after Tsitsilianos' company gilded the entire dome, the current restoration features painted interior panels, making it more closely resemble architect Cass Gilbert's model, the dome on the Hotel national des Invalides in Paris.
While he appreciates the historic significance, Tsitsilianos said of the fully gilded dome, "It had its own personality."
Tsitsilianos has a hearing this morning in the state Court of Claims about $255,000 he says the state owes his company from the 1990 re-gilding.
Cheryle Hall, clerk of the Court of Claims, said the case has been pending for several years, but hearings have been repeatedly postponed because Tsitsilianos, 72, was unable to attend because of illnesses.
State attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the claim, on the grounds the statute of limitations has expired.
The 2005 restoration was prompted, in part, because large dark streaks began appearing on the dome in the mid-1990s. A consultant concluded the 1990 gilding had been applied improperly, something Tsitsilianos disputes to this day.
Tsitsilianos said he has chemical treatments that would have removed the oily black residue without damaging the gilding. Shortly after completing the 1990 re-gilding, he said he made an offer to the state for a $500,000 contract for his company to clean and maintain the dome in perpetuity, but did not get a response from the Department of Administration.
"I told them the gilding would last many years," he said. "The gilding should last 60 years if they don't constantly go up and down on the dome, or do anything that is destructive."