Surrounding the top of the second floor landing is a beautifully detailed frieze. Severely damaged as the result of putting out a fire in the roof in the early 90’s, reportedly caused by some repair work to the roof, the ceiling sconce needed to be restored. The First Presbyterian Church, which owned the Dillon House at the time of the fire, discovered it about 8:00 AM before a staff meeting. “It looks like there is smoke coming out of the Dillon House” one person said. In a historic building, fire is terrible, but putting out the fire is devastating as well.
What is a Frieze?
FRIEZE - Definition (noun) Architecture.
1. The part of a classical entablature between the architrave and the cornice, usually decorated with sculpture in low relief.
2. Any decorative band on an outside wall, broader than a stringcourse and bearing lettering, sculpture, etc.
Oxford Dictionaries ©Oxford UniversityPress
Research revealed that the frieze had been painted at some point in the past, to provide a “copper” look. While very pronounced, it was not historically accurate. Careful examination, and scraping paint layer by layer, revealed the true original color.
Damaged parts of the original frieze revealed the answer to what was under the painted top coat. To match the pattern, our craftspeople created a latex mold of a non-damaged section, recast a plaster replacement piece, and with precision accuracy, replaced it in the exact repeating pattern as was originally created.
This multistep process allowed us a seamless repair. We repainted the non-historically correct “copper” and the original beauty of this elegant feature is impressive, to say the least.
What you see today took several attempts, several weeks, and the talents of tradespeople who treat their product more like art than work.
It truly harkens back to a day gone by, when things were done once, done right, and done to last a lifetime.
We were truly blessed to be able to find and use such people to work on the Dillon House in its historic restoration.
This is what the ceiling scone- frieze looks like today. Can you figure out what part of it we had to restore? It’s almost impossible to tell.