As a part of the renovation of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, workers have installed a reproduction of the original 12-foot-high Torch of Learning atop the building.
After a pedestal was assembled and secured to the top of the Jefferson's lantern, the 4-foot torch was hoisted and attached to the pedestal. Installation took approximately 10 days.
The torch was "illuminated" by the application of 2312-karat gold leaf, square by square, a process that took about three days. Expert architectural gilder Lisa Da Silva Cotter completed the gold leafing of the flame.
The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) recommended the award of a $5.2 million contract to PEC Inc., Laurel, Md., in October 1995 to replace the Jefferson's copper roof, dome, and torch. Subcontractor James Myers Co. Inc., Beltsville, Md., is responsible for the ornamental work on the roof, including the torch.
The original torch was removed in January 1996 and used to make molds for the new one, which was created in heavy-duty copper. Assembled in four sections, the pedestal is riveted onto a steel substructure and then soldered. The torch was molded in one piece. A lightning rod about the size of a pencil will project about 12 inches from the tip of the flame.
The roofing job consists of laying long copper sheets in 24-inch-wide strips over concrete planks. The sides of each strip are turned up, forming a pan, and bolted to a long wood strip laid between the pans. Copper bands are then clamped over the wood strips.
After 10 to 15 years, the shiny new copper will have assumed the familiar green patina of the Jefferson's old roof. The AOC spokesman predicted the Jefferson's new roof will last another 100 years or longer.