05 Sep Fri. Nov. 8th: The 2019 Sparrow Lecture

Friday, November 8th

Mechanics’ Hall, 519 Congress St.


​Image source: Architect of the Capitol



Sponsor & Patron Reception: Mechanics’ Hall Library, 6:00pm.

Sparrow Lecture: Mechanics’ Hall Ballroom, 7:00pm (doors open at 6:45pm).

The 2019 Sparrow Lecture: The Restoration of one of America’s most iconic landmarks, the US Capitol Dome – with Robert Baird. Special Introduction by Senator Angus King.

The United States Capitol is one of the most recognized and photographed buildings in the world. It is not only the legislative center for the United States but also an architectural treasure. The Dome, constructed of cast iron more than 150 years ago and a symbol of American democracy, was severely deteriorating when in 2016 a major restoration project began.

Leading a team of skilled craftsmen and artisans, Robert Baird of Historical Arts and Casting was given his “dream job” – the task of re-creating the scores of weather-damaged ornaments and elements from the national landmark. Hundreds of cast-iron decorative pieces – acorns, flowers, grape clusters and more had fallen off the dome and needed repair or recasting.

A natural storyteller, Baird will discuss the process of training his team of tradespeople during this historic three-year restoration project. He will share dynamic stories of the challenges they faced, images and details of the delicate ornamental castings, tales about the wildlife he and his crew encountered while working 300 feet up in the air and the pressure to complete the project before a presidential inauguration.

Baird will be preceded by a special introduction by Senator Angus King. A keen observer and photographer, King amassed a large following on Instagram of his everyday photos and observations from Washington. The US Capitol is often a muse. King will present photos from his book A Senator’s Eye (Islandport Press) and share his own experiences of this historic renovation.

Join us on the evening of November 8th, 2019 at 7pm in the Mechanics’ Hall Ballroom for a behind the scenes look at this engineering marvel and how it was preserved for generations to come.

Tickets are now on sale with an option to purchase admission to a pre-lecture reception at 6pm where hors d’oeuvres will be provided by David’s restaurant. Click here to purchase the following ticket types: General admission (lecture only) or choose from two types of patron tickets which include the pre-lecture reception in the library. OR to explore our donor & sponsorship opportunities further, please visit our sponsor benefits page.

Thank You to our Cornerstone Sponsors! The United Association of Journeyman & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipe Fitting Industry of United States & Canada, AFL CIO Local 716, The New England Mechanical Contractors Association, & Turner Construction.

This year’s Sparrow Lecture will be accompanied by a special photo exhibition in the Mechanics’ Hall classroom, co-curated by Bruce Brown and Robert Baird, which will tell the story of this restoration project and the history of the US Capitol building. We will host an opening reception during Art Walk on *November 1st* and the exhibit will be on view throughout the month.

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