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When Riding to the Statehouse Meant Saddling Up

Repairs to statehouse steps offer a glimpse of the stables included in original design

(INDIANAPOLIS) - The north steps of the statehouse are getting a makeover -- and uncovering  history in the process.

What now is a parking lot for the governor, legislators, and the Supreme Court was a parking lot when the statehouse opened 130 years ago too -- but back then, they were parking horses. When crews ripped out the limestone steps to rebuild them, they exposed the brick archway which led to the stables when the statehouse opened in the 1880s.

The remnants of the stables are still accessible from inside the statehouse through a maze of basement storage areas, but the outer entrance was covered by asphalt and limestone sometime after the introduction of the horseless carriage.

The state budgeted $1.8 million for repairs along the statehouse roof line and to the steps. Department of Administration spokeswoman Molly Deuberry says the steps were showing wear, and the concrete underneath was crumbling. She says there wasn't a structural danger yet, but says there could have been if the state didn't begin repairs.

Deuberry says the Department of Natural Resources is monitoring the repairs for historic preservation purposes.

The new steps will be complete and the archway hidden again by the time legislators return in November for their one-day organizational meeting.

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