Sabine Hill Paint Analysis

Posted 6 years ago on

A few years ago I conducted the paint analysis at a remarkable house in Elizabethton, Tennessee -Sabine Hill, constructed in 1818 for General Nathaniel Taylor. Taylor died before the house was completed, but it was finished by his family to a very high level. Later, it passed to tenant farmers who did not repaint; the surfaces were gradually coated with hardened oily grime. In the 1940’s the house was purchased by a “handyman” who undertook many “improvements” including moving walls, stripping paint, replacing doors, etc. Happily he ran out of steam and the site was purchased by the Tennessee Historical Commission. The restoration has been completed now, with the help of artist Cass Holly, who studied the original marbling to do a very good replication. The original work was quite fanciful, and the replication matches that quality. The background lead white is completely altered on the exposures of the original due to the grime on the surface and loss of opacity by saponification. Here are some views of the exterior and the interior. A word about the wallpaper: paper was clearly used as the plaster surfaces were sand finish plaster (a little more lime than brown coat) and adhesives were present on the surface. Unfortunately no fragments with and color or pattern survived. The patterns are of the period, and were made [beautifully made] to period specifications by Adelphi Paperhangings.