Who Knew a Historic Paint Analysis Could Be Fun?!

As anyone who has ever visited the Sanborn knows, its unique facade is made up of a light stucco and accented with elegant painted wood trim. Though the stucco has remained in remarkably good condition, the painted trim, has unfortunately, faced a different battle. Multiple coats of only the most basic white paint have not only obscured the original 1907 trim color choice, but the layers of stark white paint application combined with the weathered and unattended exterior have led to an unappealing appearance. And since so much work has been completed to restore the Sanborn interiors to their intricately detailed beauty, so does the exterior deserve the same attention.

As part of our MHC matching grant, we are able to focus on the exterior of the House for the first time since the Winchester Historical Society took stewardship of the site in 2006. For the past few weeks, the House has been scraped (for those of you who have driven by over the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that the House is in various stages of paint removal). Although the painters must make their way through dozens of paint layers, and the House must be hand-scraped in accordance with EPA lead paint removal, the progress has been amazing. If you look closely, you can tell a lot about the past quick paint jobs. For instance, the paint was much easier to remove from the uppermost section of the House, mainly because painters rarely took the time to make their way up there in past decades.

One of the most exciting and fun aspects of painting the House has been undergoing the historic paint analysis. For those unfamiliar with the process, a small sample of painted wood is taken offsite to a lab. There, the paint undergoes a series of tests, including embedding in polyester resin and magnification under ultra violet light. At the end of two weeks, the tests are complete and the client receives information on the original paint color and the closest modern approximation using mainstream paint brands like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams. Learning that the original paint choice was not white or cream but in fact a light gray has been one of the more enlightening aspects of our restoration project thus far. The painters are currently in the process of finishing the primer application, and next week will be ready to apply Benjamin Moore color #1529: “Stingray.”
Next week we also plan to begin demolition of the front entry walk and to begin installation of the new door. Be sure to keep an eye out for all the changes at the Sanborn!

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