Sycamore Shoals receives grant for research at Carter Mansion

Published 4:34 pm Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park is receiving a special grant through the Tennessee Historical Commission to conduct some unique research at the Historic John and Landon Carter Mansion.

This week the Tennessee Historical Commission State Historic Preservation Office announced the awarding of 32 matching grants totaling almost $750,000 from the Federal Historic Preservation Fund allocated to non-profits, municipalities, universities and civic organizations across the state to support the preservation of historic and archaeological resources.

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“These grants are a critical part of the Tennessee Historical Commission’s mission and contribute to the study and protection of Tennessee’s treasured historic places,” said Patrick McIntyre, state historic preservation officer and executive director.

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park received $7,185 to fund paint analysis in the Carter Mansion, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Park Manager Jennifer Bauer said a historic paint analysis had never been conducted at the Carter Mansion but were part of the restoration of Sabine Hill, the other historic home which is part of the Park’s campus.

During the research process to prepare for the restoration of Sabine Hill, Bauer said historic paint specialist Matthew Mosca of Baltimore, Maryland, was contracted to study the paints inside the historic home. Mosca is a nationally recognized consultant in the field of historic paint research and restoration.

“He spent a good deal of time at the house going from room to room, door frame to door frame, anywhere there was original surface or paint,” Bauer said.

As part of his analysis, Mosca used delicate tools to scrape away layers of paint and wall coverings to get down to the original paints used at the home.

“That is such a detailed process taking off layer after layer of modern paint without taking off the original paint,” Bauer said.

Once he collects his samples, Mosca then analyzes them in a variety of ways including micro-chemical testing, UV fluorescent microscopy, and the examination of pigments using polarized light.

“He was able to tell us the original paint pigments and also provided us with recipes to recreate them,” Bauer said.

One of the colors Mosca found in the home — known as Prussian Blue — was featured in several areas of Sabine Hill. Bauer said Sherwin Williams provided a lot of paint for the restoration project made from Mosca’s formulations.

In anticipation of receiving the grant, Bauer said she had spoken with Mosca about performing the same type of paint analysis at the Carter Mansion.

“He got to see the house when he was working at Sabine Hill, and he was fascinated by it,” Bauer said.