Architectural Conservation

Although my research interests lie in architectural history, I also have experience in architectural conservation. I have completed conditions assessments on historic buildings for annual maintenance records, historic structures reports, and conservation treatments. I have worked on a few architectural conservation projects including cleaning the exterior of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House and the anoxic fumigation of an eighteenth-century window frame. I also conducted paint analysis on several buildings in Charleston, South Carolina and have undertaken cemetery conservation work.

Applying D/2 to the Pope-Leighey House. Photo by Audra Medve.

As an intern for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, I conducted annual conditions assessments for all of the buildings at Woodlawn and the Pope-Leighey House. I also worked on a test panel for the conservation of the Pope-Leighey House’s exterior wood surfaces. The cypress walls had previously been pressure washed, making them vulnerable to weathering and staining. During the test panel, I worked with other preservationists at the National Trust to clean the wood with D/2 Biological Solution before applying Boracare to deter insects and TWP 1530 to protect the wood from additional UV damage and weathering. After my internship ended, I later returned to assist the preservation manager in cleaning the exterior of the Pope-Leighey House with D/2.

Gently brushing the walls to remove dirt from the Pope-Leighey House. Photo by Norm Shafer.

While interning with the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, I monitored the chloride levels in metal artifacts from the H. L. Hunley submarine using liquid chromatography and conducted anoxic fumigation on a mid-eighteenth century window frame. The window frame was from the bell tower of St. George’s Church at Colonial Dorchester Historic Site. The window frame had been removed for preservation because it was slowly being destroyed by carpenter bees, carpenter ants, and woodpeckers. I researched and implemented an anoxic fumigation treatment using argon gas to kill remaining insects living in the window frame. I helped co-author a report on the treatment of the window frame.

I have also undertaken several paint analysis projects while I was a student in the joint Masters of Science in Historic Preservation program at Clemson University and the College of Charleston. The most notable projects included a paint reveal at the Joseph Manigault House and interior paint analysis at St. Mary of the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church. The paint reveal for the Manigault House followed up on recommendations to make an exposure in the master bedchamber by paint analyst Susan Buck. I found evidence to support Buck’s belief that the room had a decorative paint scheme, but was unable to uncover a distinct pattern. This may be an indication that the walls were faux-marbled. The paint analysis at St. Mary’s proved to be inconclusive because the decorative woodwork had been sanded. Some surviving evidence suggests that the columns had been faux-grained and the column capitals gilded, but a more conclusive study is needed. The interior walls, however, appear to have been originally painted a warm reddish brown.

Raising Sarah White’s buried gravestone at the Emanuel AME Cemetery. Photo by Amanda Steele Tucker.

As a student, I also completed cemetery conservation projects at the Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE) Cemetery and the Mother Emanuel AME Cemetery. I carefully cleaned several early-nineteenth-century gravestones at KKBE. The AME Cemetery dates to the early-twentieth century. Many of the gravestones had sunk, some of them completely. I located, excavated, and raised several stones that had been completely covered by earth. I also did grading work around the fronts of gravestones that could not be raised because they were attached to cradles and reset fallen gravestones using an appropriate lime mortar.

Sarah White’s gravestone after being raised, cleaned, and reset