Nevada Appeal at 150: Aug. 16, 1974: Another study of Capitol

Aug. 16, 1974: Another study of Capitol

The State Public Works Board voted to give Nevada’s 109-year-old Capitol Building a thorough physical including pounding a few holes in its walls to see what’s inside.

The Capitol has been the subject of three recent engineer’s studies which all concluded that one good earthquake would reduce it to rubble.

Reno engineer Clark Gribben, who did one of the three studies, said, however, he still doesn’t know exactly how strong the old building is because no one knows what is between the outside and inside faces of the walls. He said tests of the materials and condition of the building inside its perimeter walls are needed to determine how dangerous the structure is and what measures must be taken in rebuilding or restoring it.

The board voted to allot him $20,000 for a thorough examination of the Capitol.

Gribben said he will take core samples by drilling into the building above the second floor, excavate around its foundation and cut two channels in the wall between the first and second floor to see what the original builder put inside it.

Board member Wes Wiechmann said he fully expects Gribben to find a “pile of garbage — small rocks and sand” — between the layers of masonry.

Board Secretary William Hancock said there was really no choice except to cut into the building. “That building has got to be fixed or it’s got to be abandoned,” he said.

Board Chairman William Flangas asked Gribben to present his findings before the end of the year so the board could make recommendations to the 1975 Legislature based on facts.

“I think it’s incumbent on us to wind up with a number of potential options,” he said.

Staff deputy Joe Littlefield said the options available boil down to taking no action, strengthening the building enough to make it safe to work in, reconstructing it or replacing the old Capitol with a modern office.

He said Gribben’s study was the only way to collect the necessary facts to help the legislature make a decision.

This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.


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