More to the Story – From Forgotten to the Doors of the Capitol of Democracy

FPL’s vintage lumber arrives in Washington D.C. and is unloaded by the skilled carpenters of the Architect of the Capitol. Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol

Robert Ross & Shayne Martin USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory

A year ago, the Forest Products Laboratory staff received a unique request.

That request came through a relationship built on cooperative research between the Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL). This connection resulted in an amazing story of a 3,000-lb stack of legacy mahogany and other vintage lumber of incalculable value being used in the restoration of many historical wood objects at the U.S. Capitol building.

While our country reflects on the attack of January 6, 2021, which resulted in the damage or destruction of many treasured historical artifacts, we also reflect on the story of the wood used to repair what was thought to be irreplaceable. That story shone as a bright light and sign of hope in an otherwise dark situation.

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FPL Sends Historic Legacy Mahogany to Help Restore U.S. Capitol

On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the U.S. Capitol building was the target of an attack that left it ransacked and vandalized. The destruction of many irreplaceable historical wooden artifacts and objects, including doors, intricate millwork, moldings, desks, and podiums, was extensive.

Enter Nathan Kamprath, U.S. Army DEVCOM and leader of a current joint project between the Department of Defense (DoD) and Forest Products Laboratory (FPL). Recognizing the significance of the damage, Kamprath contacted FPL research engineer Robert Ross for assistance with the U.S. Capitol repair. He then connected Ross with Architect of the Capitol (AOC) historic preservation specialists overseeing the restoration of the U.S. Capitol building. 

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