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Folger Story

Exterior Façade Restoration Project

Restoration work done by MTFA Design + Preservation receives AIA award

As an important part of preparing for the start of the Folger’s multi-year building renovation project, restoration work was done on the exterior façade of the historic Paul Cret building.

The soft Georgia marble used in the construction of the Folger 88 years ago—and many other Washington-area buildings—had been showing signs of severe weathering. Restoring the façade ensured the preservation of our landmark building for generations of future visitors.

Cleaning and conservation treatments for the historic Cret building

The restoration project, which began in 2018 and concluded with a final bas-relief treatment this month, involved cleaning the façade’s stone as well as testing the anchors holding the stone to the building. Some anchors were replaced as needed.

To remove extensive copper staining and deeply clean the stone façade without damaging it, the restoration team followed a protocol of misting, microabrasive cleaning, and poulticing. The lead-coated copper flashing at the roof line was replaced with stone, which will aid in preventing future staining.

This restoration work done by MTFA Design + Preservation received an award in 2020 for Design Excellence in Historic Preservation from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Northern Virginia.

The nine bas-reliefs along the front of the building, each of which features a scene from a different Shakespeare play, also underwent cleaning and conservation treatments to address areas of staining and erosion. As part of the cleaning process, the restoration team applied a non-ionic detergent to remove soiling and a biocide solution to remove the microorganisms that had turned the stone black. Final conservation treatments included a special solution to strengthen the aging marble.

To learn more about the bas-reliefs, explore this Shakespeare & Beyond series by artist Paul Glenshaw.