Davenport Restoration Update - 1901 Terrace Foundations

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pharding
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Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: River Forest, Illinois
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Davenport Restoration Update - 1901 Terrace Foundations

Post by pharding »

Today we made a wonderful discovery. We dug down and discovered the foundations for the original 1901 terrace which was demolished in 1931. This gives us the actual size of the 1901 terrace and proves to the village that the terrace existed. It is also interesting to see how the foundation was actually built.



The finish plaster coat has been completed for the second floor rooms, kitchen, butler's pantry, and powder room. We had the original plaster analyzed in a laboratory and we matched the finish coat exactly. We used custom graded sand to match the original sand finish exactly. As part of series of tests/mock-ups we had the plasters mock-up the Robie House plaster mix. The plaster finish of the Robie House had a rougher sand finish which utilized a large sand granule. The Davenport House utilized a finer sand granule which resulted in a more delicate sand finish. It is interesting to see the evolution of FLW's use of materials.



We have successfully replicated the stain finish of the 1901 wood trim. We worked with a furniture restoration specialist, who previously worked on the Dwight Martin House. The original wood finish was tested in a laboratory to identify the chemical composition of the stain system components. We were fortunate to find the original wood finish covered by a piece of 1931 wood trim. We did a series of stain/finish tests with a range of stain options/colors. We then worked with a color and materials consultant to dial in the stain color exactly. The stain finish system for the interior is as follows wood conditioner to mitigate blotchiness typical stained softer woods, in this case the soft hardwood poplar. Then we applied and wiped off the stain. We then used an Antique Amber Shellac. Then we used wax to create a wonderful soft sheen finish.



We are currently just starting tests for the paint system. Conventionally restored FLW Prairie School Houses use two layers of paint to create a mottled look. Personally I am skeptical that this is historically accurate. I believe that the mottling was the result of lime or chalk, a type of lime, blooming in the paint finish as it dried. I intend to investigate this by using black and white photography of the Davenport finishes and comparing those to period photographs of other FLW houses.



The rooms of the Davenport House are looking abolutely beautiful. I am thrilled with the results thus far.
Paul Harding FAIA Owner and Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, the First Prairie School House in Chicago | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

RJH
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:33 pm
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
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Post by RJH »

"Excellent commentary and photographs. Photographs make this board come alive."



When are we going to see some photos of Davenport? You have time for a lot of blogging, though.

pharding
Posts: 2252
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: River Forest, Illinois
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Post by pharding »

RJH wrote:"Excellent commentary and photographs. Photographs make this board come alive."

When are we going to see some photos of Davenport? You have time for a lot of blogging, though.
Soon. I will post some after the plasters finish next week.
Paul Harding FAIA Owner and Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, the First Prairie School House in Chicago | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

pharding
Posts: 2252
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: River Forest, Illinois
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Davenport Paint System

Post by pharding »

We are no longer inclined to believe that the original Davenport plaster finish was lime paint. It appears that it was made with two washes of water based paint. The first layer of paint was a thin layer of water based paint, yellow ochre in color. It has a luminosity similar to watercolor, except slightly more opaque. When applied to the sand finished plaster, the paint settled between the surface grains of sand and allowed parts some of the sand granules to be unfinished. Thus the beige white and brown sand created beautiful highlights that shows through the yellow ochre. The final coat was a thin wash of umber that creates both highlights and areas of deep splotches of dark brown color. It appears that this was applied with a rag or removed with the tamping of a rag. We are working with a nationally recognized historic paint consultant who is very scientific in his approach. We have also had the paint analyzed by Wiss Janey Elstsner and Evergreen Studios. Hopefully this will advance the state of the art for FLW Prairie Paint Restoration. The period photographs of FLW house in black and white by Fuermann and Co. show more mottling and splotchiness in the paint finish system than what has been achieved in the recent restorations of the Coonley Mansion and the Heurtley House. Our goal is unravel the mystery of the Prairie House paint finish system.



We retained two panels of the original, albeit cracked, unretouched painted plaster for future analysis and documentation of our restoration process for visitors. We have also created a library of original finishes which will be part of the archive that stays with the house. We also retained the original, heavily cracked and patched painted plaster within the restored plaster finish system throughout the entire house. This will allow future generations with even better technology to analyze an original FLW Prairie plaster and paint finish system.
Paul Harding FAIA Owner and Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, the First Prairie School House in Chicago | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

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