CONCORD, N.H. —
Work is underway to prepare for the bicentennial celebration of the New Hampshire State House.
State officials said the building, which turns 200 years old in 2019, is a shrine to a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Work has been in process since 2015 to get ready for the bicentennial.
“All this preparation we’ve been doing around here is to fix it up and bring it back to the jewel of the state it really is,” House Chief of Staff Terry Pfaff said.
The most visible project has involved re-gilding the dome with more than $2 million worth of 23.5-carat gold leaf. But there is much more going on.
“Bringing our brass back up to where it belongs, refurbishing sconces, doing some work in both chambers, the Senate and House Chambers, refurbishing the gallery — just things that needed to be done due to the age of our building,” Pfaff said.
On July 14, the State House will observe the 200th anniversary of the placing of the eagle atop the golden dome. Two centuries ago, Granite Staters celebrated the event with 13 toasts.
“So, we’re going to recreate that,” said Clerk of the House Paul C. Smith. “We’re actually working in partnership with Henniker Brewing Company for a special 200-year-old recipe of a cream ale that is going to be used for the toast.”
A pair of Supreme Court cases will also be heard in the State House, as they were when the building first opened its doors.
Bicentennial commission members are encouraging the public to go and observe, or just stop by to explore a living legacy that belongs to them.
“It’s the oldest State House where the Legislature still meets regularly, and that’s unique,” Pfaff said.
“We’re one of the few state houses where you can walk in, and you don’t need a reservation, you don’t have to walk through a metal detector, you can come in at any time and take part and see the proceedings and be an active participant in state government,” Smith said.