In February 2017, Mount Vernon staff began restoring the Blue Room, a bedroom on the second floor of the Mansion. After the Collections team removed the furniture and décor, the Historic Preservation team began the restoration work.

Once the Blue Room was deinstalled at the end of February, the Historic Preservation & Collections team quickly mobilized to begin restoration work. Through careful planning, a sequence of activities was developed to guide the project from repair to restoration to refurnishing. At every step, documentation and physical investigation will occur in order to glean even more information about the room.  

The project activities began with the stripping of the ceiling. The ceiling was stripped of modern paint and cleaned in order to correct paint failure and to assess whether further repairs were needed. Luckily, the ceiling itself was in good shape and only small plaster repairs will be needed.

Preservation Specialist, Eric Litchford, and Conservation Specialist, Andy Compton, apply a stripping agent to the Blue Room ceiling.

Architectural Conservator, Steve Stuckey, oversees the removal of the stripping agent and debris by Andy Compton.Then, all of the floor nails were identified by type and mapped (using color-coded stickers) for the purposes of relative dating and to identify nail patterns.

Architectural Historian, Caroline Spurry, applies color coded stickers to the floor to identify the floor nail types.

Director of Architecture, Thomas Reinhart, and Preservation Specialist, Eric Litchford, study the Blue Room floor nail patterns.

The next steps of the project will entail repairing the original 18th-century mantel and preparing the mantel, chimney breast and neighboring walls for the mantel’s reinsertion. From there, the window sashes will be removed in order to perform repairs and reglazing (resetting window panes). During some initial investigations, it was discovered that the room’s firebox once held a Rumford firebox insert; this insert will be rebuilt while the window work is underway. Once the firebox, window and mantel repairs are done, the mantel will be reinstalled and the window sashes will be rehung.

In addition, the necessary repairs to the ceiling will be executed and a fresh coat of whitewash applied. Then the floor will be stripped to bare wood and cleaned. Once completed, hand-ground paint will be applied to the room’s woodwork, with a neutral paint color that stems from recent paint analysis results. After the woodwork has been painted and cured, period-appropriate wallpaper will be hung on the walls using traditional methods; the wallpaper will reintroduce the dominant blue color into the room. After a final cleaning, the Architecture team will hand over the reins to the Curatorial team to refurnish the room and truly bring it to life.

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