Historic preservation consultant to reveal hidden secrets of paint chips at Lewes Historical Society program April 16

by Dave on April 5, 2010

Historic Preservation Consultant Catherine Masek scrapes a paint chip from the window of a historic home. She will discuss how samples taken from historic buildings are "time capsules" revealing much more than colors or how many times a building has been painted at the Friday, April 16 program of The Lewes Historical Society at 7:30 p.m. at Lewes Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, KIngs Highway and Franklins St., Lewes.

Paint. It has decorated architecture from ancient Egyptian times to the present day. Determining the original color for a historic home or its correct historic hues however, is often daunting and sometimes a challenge for preservationists and homeowners alike. Historic Preservation Consultant Catherine Masek will reveal some of the colorful secrets of her searches for the “right paint” and the stories paint chips reveal at The Lewes Historical Society’s Friday, April 16 program. The presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. at Lewes Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, Kings Highway and Franklin St., Lewes.

“Paint chips are time capsules.” says Masek who for more than 30 years has focused on the related fields of historic preservation, paint analysis, decorative arts and American history. “Studying a paint chip from a historic building is like taking a core sample from the earth,” she explains. “Besides determining an original color often arrived at from paint ‘recipes’ handed down from painter to apprentice, a paint chip can provide history such as identifying periods of construction and alteration or if a fire damaged a structure besides revealing how many times a building was painted.” She noted that lab analysis of a paint chip can even provide insights into the personalities, style, tastes and socioeconomic status of previous owners.

She says that a chip may consist of 20 to 40 layers and that more homes and buildings were painted in the 20th century than in any pervious time. Her illustrated presentation will include a historic review of paint analyses and colors on homes and buildings from the 1700s to the 1940s with particular interest in Lewes. She will also discuss some of the colors and types of paints popular during the past more than two and a half centuries.

Prior to becoming an independent consultant in 1991, Masek worked for 11 years with the Maryland Historical Trust State Historic Preservation Office where she administered programs for preservation and restoration of historic structures and provided technical paint advice. Prior to that position she participated in a restoration program at a family property of Revolutionary War General Marquis de Lafayette in south central France. Also she did research for an exhibit at Winterthur and spent two internships with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

She will bring samples and items for the audience to examine and review close up and following her presentation will answer questions about historic paint colors, recipes and paint selection for historic homes and buildings.

The program is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Submitted release.

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