TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation is beginning interior renovations of the Cherokee National Capitol building. The renovations will help prepare the building to serve as a museum site in future years.

“We are beginning the interior restoration of our most iconic building,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Because so much critical history has happened on those premises, it’s important we take the proper steps to ensure its preservation for future generations. This historic structure will soon begin a new chapter as a museum that will educate Cherokees and visitors alike about the powerful and inspiring story of the Cherokee people.”

The project includes plaster restoration, new public restrooms, new flooring, a new geothermal HVAC system, and the addition of an elevator and second stairwell. Renovations will prepare the building for its future use as a museum.

“Preservation projects are one of the most rewarding investments we can make,” said Shawn Slaton, CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses. “Once renovations are complete, this iconic building will serve as a museum and further expand the tribe’s impressive tourism offerings within the Cherokee Nation.”

The work is being performed by Builders Unlimited, a TERO-certified company. The interior renovations are being managed by Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism and are slated to be complete in early 2019.

“We’ve had a longstanding commitment to the preservation of our historic sites,” said Chuck Garrett, executive vice president for Cherokee Nation Businesses. “This project, along with the many others we’ve completed, is another way of keeping our history and culture alive and gives us an opportunity to share our Cherokee story with the world.”

This is the latest of many preservation projects to take place at the Capitol building.

In 2013, a replica cupola was constructed to bring the building back to its 1870s appearance. A few years later, the building underwent a masonry restoration in which more than 2,000 bricks were replaced to strengthen the structure. That work also included removing paint from the existing brick to help return the building to its historic look.

Additional restoration work throughout the years has included roof repairs with new decking and historic era shingles, restoration of soffits and fascia, a gutter system, and updated doors and windows.

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