Decorative Paint Restoration: MA State House Library

Boston, Massachusetts

The State Library, located in the 1895 addition to the Bulfinch building, required accurate decorative paint restoration. It was originally decorated with multi-color walls and complicated transparent and semi-transparent glazes on the columns, pilasters, door surrounds and entablature.  Successive redecoration campaigns resulted in all of this classical trim being painted a uniform, dull shade of gray with red walls. Working closely with Boston Conservation Associates (BCA), who documented the historic finishes through paint analysis, we were able to replicate the original colors and glazes of the original program.

Blackburn replicated the two tone painted panel system, separated with a half inch yellow stripe, which was applied free hand as it was originally.  Utilizing traditional hand painting techniques, we were able to replicate the original semi- transparent stippled glaze on the columns, pilasters and entablature.  The pilasters had classical raised decoration using both a yellow and a brown/red glaze.  With some experimentation, Blackburn was able to replicate the historic appearance by applying one glaze over the other so that it perfectly matched a preserved original sample.

ARCHITECT: BULFINCH, 1798 - Library Addition: Charles Brigham, 1895