Curtains rise today on renovated Florida Senate

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The newly renovated Florida Senate chamber will ceremonially open Monday, and don’t expect another re-do for a very long time.

“We believe the historic components of the remodel have created a timeless design that will limit the need for future renovations,” outgoing Senate President Andy Gardiner said in a statement.

The re-opening will take place at 3 p.m., the day before the new Legislature’s Organization Session. The project began minutes after last session’s sine die, with sergeants-at-arms hauling chairs and other furniture out of the chamber.

The chamber features redone walls, new desks, and new carpet. Senators will stand under a new ceiling dome, modeled after one in the Historic Capitol.

Also as planned, the nearly 40-year-old mural that greeted visitors to the fifth floor gallery has been removed and stored in the old Capitol.

It depicts a Confederate general and flag, which the Senate previously voted to remove from its official seal and insignia.

Gardiner had pulled the trigger on the upgrade, recognizing the chamber “has received only minimal updates since its original construction in the 1970s,” he said in a memo.

Design elements echo the Historic Capitol’s exterior, such as a pediment on top of columns over the president’s rostrum and the words, “In God We Trust.” The renovation project was budgeted for $5 million.

“In my view, we are guests in this building and we have an important responsibility to adequately preserve and maintain (it), Gardiner said.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.