Somerville Boro Hall Ceiling Restoration

HMR Architects has been working with the Borough of Somerville to restore the vaulted ceiling at the second floor stair hall at Somerville Borough Hall.  Borough Hall was constructed in 1888 as the residence of Daniel Robert.  The building is a Gothic Revival residence following very closely the design of the Harral House in Bridgeport, Connecticut, designed by Alexander Jackson Davis.  The house became an Elks Lodge in 1923 and the Borough acquired it in 1958 for use as Borough Hall.  In 1980 the building suffered a fire, after which the damaged vaulted ceiling was concealed above a dropped ceiling.  In the course of the project, 16 plaster busts were replicated and ornate stenciling was uncovered beneath layers of soot and paint.  Following exposure windows and paint analysis by Keystone Preservation, we were able to restore the original design. Below are some images revealing the process and results:

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Exposure windows installed by Keystone Preservation reveal the basic forms of the upper stencil.

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Highlighting the outlines of the stencil on the wall.

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Chris Frey and Elizabeth Lissy of Keystone Preservation color match the concealed stencil with Munsell color chips.

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Julie Kroon of HMR traces the stencil onto trace paper.

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The completed mock-up of the upper stencil between two of the replicated plaster busts.

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The completed mock-up of the wainscoting stencil.

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The project is nearly complete and we will be meeting with the Borough soon to discuss future projects in adjacent rooms where other vaulted ceilings have also been obscured beneath dropped ceilings.

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