After church services on Sunday, January 12, David Riccio, VP and decorative arts conservator at the John Canning Company, Cheshire, presented the findings and recommendations from his team’s recent investigations regarding the repainting of the FCCW sanctuary. The cost of this advisory work was supported 50% by the church and 50% by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
With a comprehensive Power Point slide show, large-size samples of trompe l’oeil paintings, and an example of the color palette he would recommend, David shared with those present a wealth of information and guidance regarding artistic choices, finishes, and affordability. His warm appreciation for the historic importance of the meetinghouse was evident throughout his talk. His strong recommendation for repainting is for the 1860 pale grey and white grisaille décor that was found on the wall behind the organ. Both the color palette and the quality of the decorative, painted brush strokes are quite extraordinary.
An interim Canning report is available both electronically and in print, upon request. David, however, has agreed to further break down the budget so that we can better decide on various painting options and whether or not to do the work in stages rather than all at one time. He may also provide us a few more small ‘close-up’ renderings of newly- found decorative 1860 features such as leaves, rosettes, and decals. Both the new itemized budget and renderings will be added to a true Final report which will be available in the near future. Furthermore, David is willing to present his findings and recommendations once again to anyone with special interest in supporting this effort, upon request.
The current estimated Canning budget for the plaster repair and repainting work ranges from $350K – $600K: far more than original estimates we were given. This budget, however, includes plaster repair and repainting of the narthex, 3 stairwells, 12 doors, and 14 large windows that we can choose to remove from this project and have done by another (perhaps less costly) contractor. The application for a SHPO matching grant of up to $100k can still be made for the decorative repainting.
Both on the survey conducted in early 2019 and from those present on Sunday, there is enthusiastic support for the continued stewardship of our unique sanctuary. That said, we will need an uber-generous donor or donors from within the congregation and/or from the wider community to renew the historic character and beauty of our church décor for future generations.
Please feel free to contact me or any of the trustees with comments or questions. B. Joyce Simpson