Step By Step- Adelicia’s Cupola Stair Restoration Begins

A generous gift, recently received, will allow Belmont Mansion to begin a phase of restoration many people truly believed they would not see in their lifetime.

Over the last two years much thought and effort have gone into bringing the upper gallery to a more acceptable historic appearance. First the floor was marbleized in an attempt to replicate Adelicia’s historic pattern, next the columns and pilasters were painted white. Lastly reproductions portraits were hung in the space as indicated by a contemporary account.

One remaining unrestored element suddenly became an elephant in the room, the cupola stair. Though structurally stabilized in the 1990’s, this amazing free flying staircase retained all of its college era finishes, dark varnish, multiple paint drips and all. As the upper gallery began to divulge secrets long hidden from view, the cupola stairs remained stagnant and unrestored.

With the completion of the floor in 2014 sample areas of the stairs were investigated in an attempt to recover original finishes. A unique combination came to light. It appears the newel posts, balusters, and handrails were all treated alike. A reddish mahogany stain had been applied to these elements in 1860, before being coated with a natural varnish. All treads and risers were originally grained to simulate oak, similar to other elements in the house.