Project Info

Monticello West Portico Columns

Monticello, home of President Thomas Jefferson, was constructed between 1796 and 1809. Jefferson designed the building, which is now a National Historic Landmark. Materials Conservation Co. was retained to design and implement an appropriate method for restoring the iconic columns of the west portico to their original finish. This required the removal of many layers of paint from the columns, which were constructed of “compass” brick coated with a sandstone render.

To develop a treatment program, MC analyzed render samples using microscopic examination and gravimetric/ acid digestion, as well as conducted historical research. Using these findings, MC created a system that combined steam and gentle abrasive blasting. Conservators tested the procedure on one prototypical column. This system successfully and effectively removed the paint layers and left the delicate original Jefferson render undamaged. Subsequently, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation retained MC to complete paint removal from the remaining columns on the west portico.

Charlottesville
Virginia
Click images below to make larger.
During treatment: conservator restoring original render.
During treatment.
Before treatment.
After treatment.

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