Three months after fire, Leg Hall ready for session

DOVER — After an October fire did $1.5 million in damage, Legislative Hall is fully ready for the start of the legislative session today.

The fire began in the attic when an exhaust pipe running from a basement generator ignited flammable materials on Oct. 7, causing the building to be evacuated and about a dozen fire trucks to respond.

The building re-opened to staffers within three weeks and to the public in early November.

State Department spokesman C.R. McLeod said 144 items, mostly portraits, were damaged by the fire, smoke and water. Of those, all but one have been returned to the capitol.

“Thankfully 99.9 percent of the other portraits and objects have made it back in and look as good as ever,” he said.

Eleven historic items needed special treatment from professional conservators, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Timothy Slavin said in October. A partnership between the state, Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware allowed two paintings to be restored at no cost.

One of those, a 1914 portrait of Revolutionary War soldier John Patton, is still undergoing treatment.

Most of the damaged furnishings and paintings simply needed to be cleaned after suffering some smoke damage.

The cleaning company, Servpro, spent several days at Legislative Hall in October and stopped by again last week to finish up, Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Jessica Eisenbrey said. A few parts, such as HVAC covers, needed to be specially made, she said.

“It’s looking much as we did if not better as legislators return to session,” Mr. McLeod said.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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