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Heritage Hall on pace for July soft opening

The dome on Michigan's state capitol building.
The dome on Michigan's state capitol building.

When it opens next month, Heritage Hallwill become the latest major project to be completed in a years-long series of infrastructure upgrades to the Capitol building.

During a tour Monday, Capitol Commission Executive Director Rob Blackshaw pointed out the size of the new add-on.

“It’s hard to really explain how big 40,000 square feet is until you get in here. Because, as you get in here, you start feeling the volume of the space. So, the one thing good about it too, we are 10 feet below ground right now. But if you look at these skylights and all the natural lighting that we brought in, it doesn’t feel like a subterranean facility,” Blackshaw said.

The $40 million Heritage Hall will include spaces for events, learning, and historical preservation.

Blackshaw said it will relieve some of the stress of hosting guests from the main Capitol building itself.

“There’s lunches, and lobbyists that have all kinds of functions. Well, the catering portion of that does the most damage to the building. The caterers are concerned with getting their sandwiches and their meals prepared, but as they’re slamming their carts into 143-year-old decorative plaster, squirting ketchup on decorative paint, it drives me and our staff crazy,” Blackshaw said.

He highlighted the hall’s atrium or state room as possible alternatives to those events.

During Monday’s tour, members of the Capitol Commission itself also seemed impressed with how the project came together.

John Truscott vice-chairs the group. He said he believes the space has surpassed expectations.

“So, you’re walking into a new structure with all the amenities that you expect from something new and then walking right into a historic structure that has just so much history behind it. I think it’s just an impressive way to experience this building,” Truscott said.

There are plans to start Capitol tours from the new addition on July 5th.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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