Antique chandelier crashes to Missouri Senate floor

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Associated Press WriterJEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A 600-pound antique chandelier crashed to the Senate floor Tuesday at the Missouri Capitol, smashing a bench typically used by pages but injuring no one.

The accident happened while maintenance workers were electronically lowering and raising the chandelier to check its light bulbs in advance of the Jan. 7 start of the legislative session.

It's believed that a section of the chandelier's cable looped off a winch, causing it to slip about 3 feet, which in turn broke a brass chain, said Dave Mosby, the state's facilities operations manager. The chandelier then fell nearly 50 feet onto the mahogany bench centered just in front of the dais, Mosby said as he inspected the damage.

Both the bench and the chandelier are original items of the Capitol, which was constructed and furnished between 1913 and 1919, said Tom Sater, a restoration consultant in the Division of Design and Construction.

The chandelier will be sent to St. Louis for repair, Sater said, but it's unclear yet whether the bench can be repaired or will have to be replaced. Officials had no immediate estimate on the cost, which will be paid from state funds.

As part of a Senate renovation in 2001, electronic winches were installed in place of mechanical ones to lower the chamber's four chandeliers. Mosby said engineers would examine the new system for flaws before maintenance crews do any work on the remaining three chandeliers.

The three maintenance workers were the only people in the Senate chamber at the time of the accident, Mosby said, but the sight of the shattered glass and wood on the Senate's green carpet attracted numerous official and unofficial onlookers before the Senate chamber was locked up.

According to Capitol records, the state paid the Saint Louis Brass Manufacturing Co. $64,245 in 1917 and 1918 to furnish all of the Capitol's electrical light fixtures. Sater said he did not know how much the chandeliers were worth today.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: