At the end of last year we asked our members to help support a restoration project in the beautiful Connecticut Board Room of Memorial Continental Hall and we are so grateful for the tremendous response we received. More than 1,000 Daughters from all over contributed to this project.
As a means of background, the Connecticut Board Room has served as a NSDAR executive meeting space since its completion in 1910. The National Board of Management met in this room until 2001 when they outgrew the space. The room is decorated with wood and plaster work in the neoclassical style featuring molded leaves, flowers, urns and even stars. The carved mahogany furniture is original to the room as are the three gilded bronze and cut glass electric chandeliers. The wool rug is a reproduction of the original which wore out many years ago.
With this restoration work near completion, I wanted to share more about the project and the work that is being done. Over the last 100 years, the Connecticut Board Room suffered water damage from internal piping issues, a deteriorated roof and infiltration from deteriorated mortar joints between the Vermont marble blocks of the exterior façade. We are pleased to report that these problems were identified and corrected in recent years to ensure the structural integrity of our DAR Headquarters. However, before these structural issues were fixed, water damage had caused the woodwork to rot away and the plaster ornamentation to disintegrate. During this year’s restoration process we found that, luckily, most of the water damage exists along the outer walls and, in particular, in just one corner of the room.
In order to fix the issues in the Connecticut Board Room we have been working with Worcester Eisenbrandt, Inc. (WEI) of Baltimore, Maryland. This company specializes in the restoration of historic buildings and monuments. Some of their most notable projects include the National Cathedral, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, World War II Memorial, National Museum of American History, Pentagon and Lincoln Memorial. WEI sent their talented artisans who specialize in the historic restoration of woodwork and plaster as well as an architectural conservator to work on the Connecticut Board Room. The project manager was our very own DAR Museum Curator of Furnishings and Historic Interiors Patrick Sheary who made sure all the work was done to the highest standard.
In areas with the most damage, the multiple layers of plaster and lath (thin pieces of wood) had to be removed back to the structural brick and terracotta partition walls. Workmen also removed rotted woodwork and damaged cast plaster ornamentation of both the walls and ceiling. Only damaged areas that could not otherwise be repaired were treated in this way. Once workmen completed the removal of the damage, reconstruction began. All removed work had to be replaced exactly as originally done. This meant that workmen used traditional methods to recreate missing parts. Plaster artisans made molds of missing decorative motifs and cast new ones out of plaster. Once removed from a mold, each new piece had to be carefully hand carved to bring out the elaborate details like leaves, berries and flowers. Workmen rebuilt the flat plaster in layers applied to lath attached to the brick and terracotta walls.
This labor intensive process has taken nearly three months to complete but the final result will be truly astounding. You cannot detect new work from the original.
I am thrilled to see the Connecticut Board Room restored to its original beauty and to see this damage remediated. These artisans are working tirelessly to get this restoration done just right and I cannot wait to see the final results. Most importantly, restoring this space ensures that future visitors will enjoy seeing and using our stunning Connecticut Board Room for many years to come.
Thank you so much for your generous support of this project. If you are interested in supporting this project, please visit www.dar.org/PGDillon.