West Virginia House chamber undergoing $2 million major renovation project

By: - August 18, 2023 6:00 am
Two men load a small desk onto a cart to move it out of the House chambers.

Furniture and equipment were removed from the House of Delegates chamber this week in preparation for the room’s first major renovation in nearly 30 years. (Perry Bennett | West Virginia Legislative Photography)

The West Virginia House of Delegates chamber will be closed much of the rest of the year as it undergoes its first major renovation since 1995, House Clerk Steve Harrison said.

The project will cost an estimated $2.3 million, including new paint, carpet, chairs and microphones among other things.

“As you may have seen in the chamber, there’s significant peeling of the paint especially in the arches,” Harrison said. “It’s something that’s been going on for the past few years, and renovations are overdue.”

House Speaker Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, referenced the project in his address on the last night of the recent special legislative session. 

“We will, beginning almost immediately, be renovating this House Chamber, and this room will be unavailable to us,” Hanshaw told delegates. “We will not meet again in this room, as a body, until we’re convened again for the 2024 regular session of the Legislature.”

This week, furniture and sound equipment were removed from the chamber, Harrison said.

“The painting from all the way up, floor to ceiling, whatever is painted is going to be repainted,” Harrison said. “There will be floor-to-ceiling scaffolding here in probably about three weeks. It is a complete renovation and the first one in 28 years and hopefully something that will last for 20 years or more.”

Once the carpet is removed, Harrison said workers will also be looking to determine what can be done with wiring to help with future technology capacity in the room and to improve the room’s sound quality, which has been an issue in some parts of the room. 

“We had some testing going on [Monday] and [Tuesday] from a sound company we work with and they’re going to give us some options on what will help absorb sound a little better and see what we need to do as far as the existing sound panels we had and the curtains that we had up,” he said. “So we think this will make some repairs that are needed and make some wiring upgrades and hopefully keep the chamber working well and looking good for quite some time to come.”

Curtains have been removed from the corners of the House Chamber, and they may not be replaced, he said. 

“Folks will actually be able to see the marble at the corners, which brightens it up,” he said. “And we think that’ll give an even better look to the chamber.”

The room’s new carpet will be red, like it has been, but will have a pattern, which Harrison said will improve its look and help to hide dirt and lint. 

The room’s new paint will be the same shade it is currently, but the room’s red panels may be a slightly different color red.

The project will also include refinishing and touching up the chambers’ desk and replacing the chairs. 

“We’re going with chairs that have a little shorter arms,” he said. “The chairs we currently have in there are so large they’re hard to maneuver and they don’t really go up under the desk real well.”

In a room behind the House chamber, a small data closet will be removed and replaced with a loft for the equipment.

The state’s contract with painting and decorating company A.J. Vater & Co. is just under $2 million, Harrison said. With the cost of chairs and new microphones and other items, the total cost of the project is estimated at $2.3 million, but may be adjusted along the way, Harrison said.

The contractor — A. J. Vater & Co — has a Dec. 1 deadline to complete the project, ahead of the 2024 legislative session, slated to begin the second Wednesday in January. 

“There’ll be a lot of activity going on in the chamber for the next several weeks,” he said. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the total cost of the project is more than $2 million.


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Lori Kersey
Lori Kersey

Lori Kersey is a reporter with a decade of experience reporting in West Virginia. She covers state government for West Virginia Watch.