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New gold adds shine to Price Memorial Hall

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The Gilders' Studio applied new gold leaf to the steeple on Price Memorial Hall on UNG's Dahlonega Campus this summer.

The gold steeple atop the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Price Memorial Hall on the Dahlonega Campus now shines brighter.

A new covering of gold leaf was applied as part of a regilding and restoration project on the steeple this summer. The process included stripping off the old gold, priming the copper and installing adhesive material for the gold leaf.

The Gilders' Studio, based in Maryland, takes on projects around the world, including a recent job in Dubai. Some of the company's most notable projects include the Washington Monument, the Library of Congress and the Georgia State Capitol.

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"We're thrilled to be able to do our part to keep the steeple shining for years to come," said Michael Kramer, president and founder of the Gilders' Studio. "This steeple means so much to the university and to Dahlonega."

The Gilders' Studio returned the shine to UNG's steeple, which was first covered in gold in 1973 to mark the university's 100th anniversary and was regilded in 1999.

Retired Col. James T. Palmer, who served as UNG's Commandant of Cadets from 1999 until June 2019, was a member of UNG's class of 1973. He recalled then-Gov. Jimmy Carter being on campus for the steeple dedication May 5, 1973.

"The gold steeple contrasted sharply with my memory of the black slate steeple that I had first viewed during FROG Week in 1969," Palmer said. "In my last two years at North Georgia, Price Memorial had needed some repairs. The new gold on the steeple convinced me that our signature building would continue to exist."

Drone footage was used to help determine the best way to restore the gold for the second time. UNG engaged a historical building restoration design professional and also brought in a gold leaf specialist who advised that a new coat of gold was the best for longevity, said Todd Bermann, UNG director of capital planning and project management.

About 18 ounces of 23.75-carat gold was used in the regilding.

"We went with a thicker, higher-quality gold," Bermann said. "We wanted to see if we could outdo 20 years."

Price Memorial Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. It was constructed on the foundation of the U.S. Mint that was deeded to the university in 1873 but later burned.

Allstate Construction in Perry, Georgia, is the contractor, and Flynn Finderup Architects did the design work.

Ken Crowe, UNG assistant vice president for facilities, enjoyed planning the latest regilding.

"It's a great privilege to be involved in a project to restore a historic asset of this campus, this town and this state," Crowe said.

Hank Haynes, UNG project manager, also embraced the chance to play a role in the work.

"It was the opportunity of a lifetime to work on the steeple. It is the most iconic building, not only on campus, but in Dahlonega," Haynes said. "It was great to learn about the history of Price Memorial and the gilding process."

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