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New Discoveries Drive Belmont's Restoration

Though Belmont Mansion is closed to guests, it’s ongoing care requires routine visits to ensure the safety of the structure and collections within. On the few days I have been on site in the last month, it has been impossible for me not to continue my architectural investigations. In preparation for graining all door and window frames in the first floor gallery, I have been poking and scraping uneven paint surfaces.

Remember this old house still has many secrets we are waiting to uncover. In recent days my prep work revealed several locations where it was possible to reveal sections of the 1859 faux oak graining. Within a few hours’ time large expanses were once again visible for the first time in over 130 years.

Decades of white and buff paint layers covered a simple, dark and unimaginative college era graining. In most areas all but this 1890s graining was easily removed once the first chip was broken loose. Difficult to remove, the college graining finally gave way to reveal the artistry below.

It will be of no surprise to anyone familiar with Belmont what has been revealed is of an unsurpassed quality in a domestic structure locally. As found, there is a mixture of quarter sawn, figured grain, straight grain and fanciful graining, sometimes all applied to the same architrave. To date I have been able to identify two if not three different hands at work simultaneously.

Adelicia’s Grand Salon was enlivened by these fluid and fanciful designs of her expert grainers. We will continue to explore and analyze this new find which will be preserved in place and viewable once guests return to Belmont.

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