Capitol Hill, We Have Liftoff

Posted March 25, 2005 at 5:35pm

[IMGCAP(1)]The liftoff of the Capitol Dome’s Statue of Freedom in 1993 was, as Roll Call reported, the “most unusual event on the Capitol grounds in more than a century.”

The 142-year-old statue, which stands at 19 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 14,984 pounds, was taken down from the top of the dome for a three-months-long renovation, which included refurbishing the bronze cast and repairing weather damage to the figure. It was lifted off the Capitol Dome on May 9, 1993, by an S-64F Skycrane.

Roll Call featured a photo spread in its Thursday, May 13, issue dedicated to the liftoff. There was a big crowd at the 6 a.m. liftoff ceremony, including Members, their families and the public, to see cranes move the 7-ton statue and place it on a pedestal on the East Front.

The statue was also celebrated in the newspaper in a variety of ways. Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson gave new life to the statue in two memorable cartoons, and Roll Call made special-order “I was there” T-shirts for the historic event.

In all, the liftoff and renovation project cost $750,000 and was paid for with private donations.

The Statue of Freedom was brought back to its home in a grand celebration held on Oct. 23 of that year, as part of the 200th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone.