Ornamental Metalwork Conservation: Salem Probate Court

Salem, Massachusetts

In the renovation of this late nineteenth century courthouse, it was decided to conserve and restore the faux finished ornamental grillwork and stairs that provided access to the basement and second floor. The structure was steel, faux finished to look like patinated bronze. The first step to this metal finish conservation job was to clean the dust and construction debris from the grille using a HEPA VAC. The lacquered bronze surface of the new elevator cage prevented using any kind of liquid to remove imbedded dust because there was no way to wipe it dry. Instead, we used absorene paper cleaner followed by tinted wax. Damaged areas, revealing the orange red oxide primer, were touched up with a tinted reversible paint.  This system was employed on the grille and underside of the stair, where replacement white marble stair treads required faux finishing to match the faux bronze around it. The final result was a tall sculptural structure, offset against the marble stairs and wainscot.