Friday, March 18, 2016

Conservation/Restoration Expertise Among Us

Next month, our repurposed local armory will open its doors as a library, senior center, and headquarters for an after-school program. Last week, a much grander armory, the Park Avenue Armory in New York City, reopened the doors of the Veterans Room after a restoration that had taken more than a year and cost $8 million. 

Randy Kennedy explains in the New York Times that the Park Avenue Armory had been "built as a bejeweled boys' club by New York State's Seventh Regiment of the National Guard, the blue-blooded militia that was the first to respond to Lincoln's call for troops in 1861." The Veterans Room is the armory's most opulent reception room.

The room was originally designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, architect Stanford White, painter and interior designer Samuel Colman, and Candace Wheeler, one of America's first female interior and textile designers. The Veterans Room is one of a series of restorations at the Park Avenue Armory being overseen by the Swiss studio Herzog & de Meuron. Local hands--local to Columbia County and Hudson, that is--were also involved. Foreground Conservation and Decorative Arts LLC was part of the project, its third at the armory.

John Lippert, partner in Foreground, described their part in the restoration:
We conserved and restored the painted decoration on the timbered ceiling and the mural frieze in the Veterans Room, designed and executed by Associated Artists in 1882. Samuel Colman, who took part in the decoration of the Mark Twain house in Connecticut, was responsible for the stenciling at the ceiling. 
When we got to the project, the 222 plaster ceiling panels had all been over-painted in brown and aluminum. We chemically removed these over layers, and documented the original stenciled and hand-painted decoration in order to reproduce the original decoration in the original yellow and pewter.
We removed the aluminum over-paint and darkened varnish at the timbered beams to expose the original intact decoration.
We cleaned, mended the multiple tears and losses to the burlap support, and lined with new linen all 22 frieze panels in our Chatham studio.
What an extraordinary restoration project to have been a part of!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to John Lippert who used to have his restoration studio on Park Place but who had to move to Chatham because of high rent increase. He has restored our paintings and fixed our frames for years and is a truly excellent restorer. We are lucky to have him in the area