Preservation Update: Architectural Paint Research Conference


A reveal of the paint layers in the Cottage’s vestibule

Our Senior Preservationist, Jeff Larry, was in New York City last week attending the Architectural Paint Research Conference hosted by Columbia University. The conference featured conservators, experts in paint analysis and decorative painters from around the world presenting their latest projects and techniques as well as studies on the past use of paints and decorative finishes. The conference was relevant to President Lincoln’s Cottage because faint remnants of decorative painting were uncovered on the Cottage’s vestibule’s plaster walls in 2007 showing a rail, stile and panels motif found in wooden wainscot.

Since 2008 we have taken steps to mitigate the moisture intrusion, consolidated loose plaster and infilled areas of missing plaster. In 2014 we hired a conservator to create a “reveal” on a non-damaged vestibule wall. The reveal was made by carefully removing all layers of paint to expose what we believe is the Lincoln era paint scheme. As seen in the photograph, the rails and stiles were painted to appear like dark walnut, the panels like white oak with the walls painted mauve. The photograph also shows the meeting point of the mauve walls and the robin’s egg blue arched ceiling. After speaking with numerous professionals at the conference we are confident that our deliberate approach is the right one and that the next phase of the project could be to increase the size of the reveal to learn more about the types of paint used and hopefully discover the wood graining patterns on the rails, stiles and panels. Stay tuned!

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