The Eastern Star Home, now housing the Archer School for Girls, was built in 1931 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, and designed by William Mooser and Co. The decorative scheme, executed in oil and metallic paint and/or metal leaf on plaster, includes all walls and ceilings of the Foyer and Main Hallway. Prior to the conservation/restoration campaign in 2016, the painted surfaces were unevenly covered with an alkyd coating which had darkened considerably, leaving the ceiling and walls quite dingy and patchy in appearance. In addition, the ceiling and walls displayed a significant amount of flaking and lost paint. Conservation scientist Richard Wolbers (University of Delaware) was consulted to design a solvent gel system specifically for Archer, as well as to do paint analysis on original layers. Further testing indicated that removal of the coating would be a time-consuming and delicate task, with potentially uneven results. It was therefore our recommendation, and the school’s decision, to take an approach that combined conservation and restoration practice, to insure preservation of the most important decorative elements, while re-creating the large fields and line work in the main hallway.
The prominent and densely decorated Foyer was given full conservation treatment on all surfaces, presenting the original surfaces of the historic scheme as accurately as possible. Likewise, the stenciled decorative elements of the Main Hallway underwent full conservation treatment to preserve the original paint layers. Conservation treatment included aqueous surface cleaning; removal of the alkyd coating; removal of multiple layers of latex overpaint; stabilization of flaking paint; varnishing; and visual reintegration.
The large fields and contrasting bands of the ceiling and upper walls of the Main Hallway were re-created by K.C. Restoration Co., Inc., using modern paints and materials selected for performance and similarity in color and sheen to the historic original. This approach was a compromise between the imperatives of preserving historic material and realistic budgeting of resources, and was reviewed and approved by the City of Los Angeles’ Office of Historic Resources.