Yesterday Tom shared a somewhat jarring photo of the Capitol dome — colored red. It wasn’t something we had seen before, dating roughly to the late 1950s. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have much information.
After a bit of digging, we now know that the Capitol’s re-painting (and temporary red coloring) happened in April 1960. The photo spotted on Twitter came from a family’s Washington trip between April 22-25, 1960. Here are more details from a colorless front-page Washington Post photo feature on April 5, 1960:
Over the Capitol Dome
A lone painter was suspended from the top of the Capitol dome yesterday in a bosun’s chair rig, giving what will be the final coat of paint in the dome’s refurbishing. Its color will be off-white, to conform with the rest of the Capitol. Right now, though, the dome shows four colors of the refurbishing process — an anti-rust dark tone, a red preservative, a beige primer, and the final, off-white coat.
Want to see another photo of a D.C. institution unexpectedly painted red?