A major makeover is underway for the centerpiece of the University of Virginia. As the crews start their work, the people who have worked inside the historic Rotunda for years are almost done moving out.
A two-year facelift for the Rotunda began Monday. Offices have been planning the move-out process since about February, and now the Rotunda now stands nearly empty.
"It's involved a lot of people, a lot of coordination. There's a lot of moving pieces and just a lot of folks involved with it to make sure that it goes smoothly and that everything is moved out properly, carefully and stored in the right places,” said historic preservation project manager James Zehmer.
As people move out, memories and a lot of interesting things are being dug up. Zehmer says several signatures from the 1850s were found engraved on the interior lining of the cistern. Crews also found the interior chemical hearth where some of the first experiments took place.
“It's one of the last bits of the Jefferson-period Rotunda that we have because it was bricked up and therefore survived the fire in 1895,” Zehmer said.
In two years, the Rotunda will have new electric and plumbing systems and new marble on the columns. It will also have a lot more to offer students.
“In two years we're going to programmatically turn this building back over to the students and it's really going to become once again the heart of the university. We're programming it to have more classes in the Rotunda, longer study hours,” Zehmer said.
The last to move out of the building will be the board of visitors, who will hold their June meeting in the Small Special Collections Library and will be out by the second week of June.