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Adams House
Avery Coonley House
Corrado Parducci Mural
Detroit Athletic Club
Fairlawn Mansion
Hegeler Carus Mansion
Kalamazoo City Hall


Project Name:  Fairlawn Mansion, ca. 1890
Superior, Wisconsin
Objectives:  Conservation and Stabilization of water-soluble trompe l'oeil distemper ceiling and frieze; reinstatement of lost ceiling decoration
Project Date:  July 1999
Materials:  Paint, Plaster

Constructed in 1890, Fairlawn Mansion in Superior, Wisconsin represents one of the finest examples of High Victorian architecture in America. Built by industrialist and politician Martin Pattison, the home was primarily paid for by profits from timber and iron mining. Following Mr. Pattison's death, the family moved to California in 1920 and the building became a home for children and unfortunate women. During its institutional tenure, the magnificent interiors were almost entirely lost to remodeling and overpainting. 

The ceiling of Mr. Pattison's Office in Fairlawn Mansion is particularly significant because it is the only decorative painting in the building to have survived virtually intact. This decoration was preserved through the installation of a drop ceiling, which covered the paintings and likely kept them from being over-painted or removed as was the fate of the other original decorative painting in the house. The painting on the ceiling's trompe l'oeil panels was executed to appear as raised plaster; this surrounds a painted open oculus with clouds, sky and vines. The painted frieze is non-repetitive trompe l'oeil fronds and vines.

The conservation of the room's ceiling and frieze was accomplished through five separate procedures:
  1. Cleaning
  2. Removal of redundant room elements
  3. Plaster stabilization
  4. Support of the plaster frieze through plaster in-fill
  5. Reinstatement of areas of the ceiling lost through plaster collapse.