Conservators have nearly completed a “first pass” of cleaning the Parlor’s walls and ceiling after re-stabilizing the original paint and gilding. This process presents an impasse for the rest of the project as potential problems may reveal themselves once layers – and over a century’s worth – of soot and grime are removed from surfaces.
A layer of opaque white paint (very similar to that in the Green Bedroom) has always been visible on the ceiling’s north-facing side. The white paint most likely was applied in the 1940s as an attempt to make the “trouble spots” (such as water damage and soot deposits) blend in. Its application, though careful, is visibly amateur.
Another very different possible restoration attempt, however, has just been revealed by conservators: a swath of taupe paint on the faux paneling of the northwest-facing wall. Unlike the opaque paint, this newly visible paint layer is skillfully applied and mimics the original 1860’s decoration done by artist Guiseppe Guidicini. It has been surmised by conservators that this imitation painting was done much earlier than the 1940s, possibly as a preservation measure by the Mansion’s second occupants, the Libby family (c. 1894-1929).
Stay tuned as more discoveries reveal themselves in this fascinating project!