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John McCarroll, University Relations, (515) 294-6137
Annette Hacker, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- One of Iowa State University's signature buildings has been restored to its original 1906 look.

Beardshear dome Students equate stately Beardshear Hall with important offices and vital resources -- the office of the president, University and research administration and financial aid, among others. But these days, they're looking up to find a gilded dome and rotunda, freshly painted in chocolate browns, soft yellows and ivory. It's a view that hasn't been seen in a nearly a hundred years.

The dome restoration was made possible by a couple of private gifts that funded all of the gold leaf used in the gilding as well as other parts of the restoration. Donors are ISU Vice President Warren Madden and Career Services Director Beverly Madden, and former ISU Vice President George C. Christensen.

Beardshear arch "Beardshear is one of Iowa State's most significant structures and after 100 years needed to be restored," Warren Madden said. "I have had the privilege of having an office in Beardshear for more than 37 years. In these difficult budget times, private funds are appropriate to pay for gilding. We were pleased to be able to contribute to make this possible. We also will have the opportunity to enjoy the building every day along with the thousands of visitors and students who come into Beardshear every year."

Staff from Evergreene Painting Studios, a New York-based restoration firm, used old photographs and high-tech science to sift through a century's worth of old paint layers and arrive at the dome's original color schemes. Workers then washed, primed, painted, glazed and gilded the plaster surfaces to match the Beardshear Hall of old.

Stained glass Beardshear Hall was built in the neoclassic style which borrowed heavily from ancient Greek and Roman architectural elements, says ISU architect Steve Prater. Like many turn-of-century buildings, it exemplifies the Beaux Art school of design that became very popular after it was used in exhibit buildings in the 1893 Chicago world fair. Beardshear's large columns, decorative rosettes and scrolls, and plaster so masterfully finished that it appears to be marble, are typical of the Beaux Art look.

The restored Beardshear dome will look just like the old with one exception. A round, stained glass window will be installed at the top of the dome, above the oculus (opening at the top of the dome).

The oculus window will complement two large stained glass windows that have been installed in the third-floor ceiling in another part of the restoration to Beardshear. Part of the original building, the stained glass was removed in the '60s due to damage. The new stained glass on the third floor was patterned after the original glass.

Beardshear arch Lighting is also being added to the Beardshear rotunda to highlight the columns and dome. "The up-lighting in the atrium will make the dome spectacular," Madden said.

Planning for the renovation of Beardshear began more than five years ago, Madden added. "The $8 million project that included major remodeling on three floors, construction of the Student Answer Center, replacement of the outdoor steps, updating the building for safety and accessibility and installing a new electrical system should be completed by April.

"We needed to make improvements to Beardshear Hall now to preserve this part of the university heritage for yet another century."

Next up on the Beardshear maintenance list is replacement of deteriorating exterior windows. That work will continue for the next four years, ISU architect Prater said.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Downloadable photos of the Beardshear dome and rotunda may be found at For more information, contact Linda Charles at (515) 294-3129.

Iowa State University
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Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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