TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation officials celebrated the placing of a replica cupola to the Cherokee National Capitol after an absence of 85 years. It was an original feature that was destroyed by fire in 1928 and is being replaced as part of this restoration.

The cupola is a feature that helps bring the building back to its original 1870s appearance. Originally, the cupola was used to aid airflow through the upper floors of the building. Over time, however, it was used for office space as well as a jury room before it was destroyed.

“This is the very first building following the Trail of Tears that was built by our ancestors because they believed in justice, they believed in law and they believed in government,” said Bill John Baker, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. “It is important to preserve and restore our landmarks, so they can educate future generations of our rich history.”

Construction crews have placed the framing of the cupola and will continue with finishing touches as the project proceeds.

Cherokee Nation officials are currently preserving the historic building’s existing materials and restoring the historic character of the building. The project began in January and is scheduled to be completed by this summer.

The restoration includes roof repairs with new decking and historic era shingles, restoration of soffits and fascia, a new gutter system and the addition of the cupola. The project also calls for adding updated doors and windows, a new back porch and exterior waterproofing for the building’s foundation.

The Capitol was built in 1869 and occupied by all three branches of the Cherokee Nation government prior to statehood. Today, it houses the judicial branch of the government. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also designated a National Landmark.

The preservation of the Cherokee National Capitol building has been financed in part with federal funds from the Save America’s Treasures program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.