A little soap and water and expertise has gone a long way at Grace Church, the New York Times reports. The landmark house of worship is currently undergoing a $5 million dollar renovation including work on “a new copper roof, new insulation, new lighting, new wiring and a much-needed cleaning of many of the 3,200 organ pipes.”
One of the more visible discoveries has been colorful starscape on the church’s ceiling that had been painted over decades ago:
New York Times: This work was painted over in the early 20th century with a pattern of false wood, or faux bois, perhaps because the exuberant décor had come to be seen as a bit too riotous. The walls were turned government-office beige; the ceiling, lumberyard brown.
However, sharp-eyed parishioners like Margaret Ann Monsor sensed that something fabulous was lurking below the wood grain. The original decoration could still be faintly discerned. “Sometimes, if the sermon wasn’t gripping, I’d look up and see all this detail,” said Ms. Monsor, a leader of the renovation project.
EverGreene Architectural Arts, the conservation, plaster and decorative painting subcontractor to Grace, made a happy discovery: The faux bois was in distemper paint, a water-soluble combination of pigment, chalk, water and an organic binding agent.
Crews from EverGreene began removing the distemper paint in September, working atop a platform of dense scaffolding. They were largely finished this month.
Our restoration project of the 19th century Grace Church in Brooklyn Heights is featured in today's New York Times http://t.co/PabLbOF6WT
— ICS Builders, Inc. (@icsbuildersinc) December 26, 2013
Earlier this year, Grace Church was given a “Sacred Sites” grant of $30,000 by the New York Landmarks Conservancy towrards its multi-million dollar renovation.