Sterling Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT: Preservation research and restoration of historic plaster, wood, and decorative finishes in this James Gamble Rogers National Landmark

The Sterling Memorial Library is placed at the heart of Yale University, and was designed by James Gamble Rogers as a cathedral of learning. John Canning & Co. was selected to research and restore the woodwork, decorative finishes, plaster, and nave. The key component to this restoration was the conservation cleaning that took place on almost all of the finishes, to include the coffered barrel vault ceiling. This ceiling required a rottenstone treatment as specified by Rogers to achieve the effect of a weathered, fifteenth-century finish. Areas with new woodwork were also refinished to blend seamlessly with the original. John Canning & Co.’s work also included in-painting areas of loss, reinstating missing relief ornamentation, and conservation and restoration of the mural placed on the back wall of the nave. The mural, by Eugene Savage, is surrounded by allegorical figures and symbols to represent the academic schools.

Location: New Haven, CT

Built: 1930

Original Architect: James Gamble Rogers

Style: Collegiate Gothic

Planning & Design Services:

  • Historic Investigation and Analysis
  • Condition Assessment & Treatment Reports
  • Paint Exposures
  • Shop Drawings


Restoration & Decoration Techniques:

  • Historic Plaster Stabilization
  • Ornamental & Flat Plaster Repair
  • Replication of Mould & Casting
  • Plaster Patching & Infill
  • Decorative Art Conservation
  • Decorative Patterns
  • Mural Conservation
  • Trompe l’oeil
  • Stenciling
  • Glazing
  • Architectural Woodwork Conservation