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Under the Dome, Odyssey of Greek Revival Ends

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RALEIGH — TheState Capitolbuilding is 160 years old and has never looked better, now that artisans have completed seven years of restoration work.

Behind the scaffolding and plywood, a revival has been taking place -- a Greek revival.

"The North Carolina Capitol has one of the finest examples of Greek Revival public architecture in America," says Andrea Bogart, Capitol Building Programs officer.

For the Tarheel State in 1840, going Greek meant going all the way, even if it did bust the budget.

The price tag on the original building -- completed in 1840 -- was about $500,000. That was more than three times the yearly general income of the state.

Restoring the building this time around cost about $3 million.

The work meant stripping away layers of dull cream-colored, mustard yellow and institutional green paint.

The newest layer is the same as the original one -- snow white. White ceilings, oak-grained doors, even faux granite grace the building.

"I believe there are 588 blocks of granite," Bogart says of one area.

On the third floor -- soon to be opened to the public -- are the offices of the state geologist and the state librarian.

"It is furnished to look as if the librarian just walked out of the room for a few minutes," Bogart says.

If the librarian returns, he will find the place just as he left it, with very few clues to the past 160 years.

To celebrate the building's anniversary, Capitol staff will host an open house Saturday from 3-5 p.m., to be followed by an outdoor concert by the 82nd Airborne Band. The festivities are free.