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An employee of Laib Restoration of Oshkosh was working Tuesday from the inside out on the Oneida County Court House dome removing some of the 2,400 glass pieces that must be removed in the dome restoration project. A federal grant of $390,000 is assisting with financing for the project. (Daily News photo by Daryl Youngstrum)

In The News

Dome restoration underway

High above the city of Rhinelander, where few creatures other than birds have ever perched

By Heather Schaefer
May 2004
High above the city of Rhinelander, where few creatures other than birds have ever perched, workers have begun the process of restoring the historic Oneida County Courthouse dome.

A four-person team, two workers from Oakbrook Esser Studios of Oconomowoc and two from Laib Restoration of Oshkosh, is arduously working to return the dome to its former glory.

Work began on Monday with the workers from Laib deconstructing the panels that hold the glass panes in place, said Oneida County Buildings and Grounds Director Curt Krouze.

Krouze says four of the eight sections will be removed and restored this summer while the remaining four will be worked on next summer.

Residents gazing at the courthouse will notice the open parts of the dome will be covered with a plywood skin while the workmen from Oakbrook Esser repair the panes.

Krouze says the panes will be taken to the company's Oconomowoc home base for refurbishment.

"Everything will look like it did only better," said Krouze of the soon-to-be newly improved dome.
Krouze said the reason the project is being done in two parts is because the process is so time consuming.

There are approximately 2,400 pieces of glass (there are about 300 pieces of glass in each of the eight sections) that must be restored, he said.

This latest dome restoration project began approximately five years ago after it was discovered there were missing panes in the dome and pigeons were making the historic emerald beacon into a bird condominium.

"There were about 70 pigeons in there," says Krouze. "It was an incredible mess."

There were also problems with cracking panes, Krouze said.

"When the wind blew the panes would crack and we'd get more pigeons," he relates.

Eventually the matter became a staple at meetings of the county buildings and grounds committee. Krouze credits former Oneida County Board Chairman Leonard "Bud" Guth with really getting the restoration ball moving.

"He would bring it up over and over again how we had to do something about the dome," Krouze says of Guth.

Finally, with some help from the federal government, in the form of approximately $390,000 secured by Rep. Dave Obey, the project is up and running.

"This is one of the best things we've done in a long time and with any luck the structure will not need to be touched again for another 50 to 100 years," he said.

Soon the dome will once again be, as the late Kris Gilbertson, editor emeritus of the Daily News, once wrote, "a prized attraction, glowing like a huge glass lampshade at night."


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