45th Anniversary Retrospective
This year marks 45 years since the start of the Canning company. During that time, we have been entrusted with restoring state capitol buildings and landmark courthouses, churches, libraries, museums, theaters, and more. We have been privileged to work on some of the nation’s most visible and important historic buildings finishes that included plaster restoration, decorative finishes, murals, gilding, historic woodwork, and stone. Throughout this year we will celebrate the past 45 years by sharing stories, project highlights and much more as we look back on the journey traveled so far.
We will continue to share and expand this page throughout the year, so check back often.
Behind the Scenes
John Canning - The Man Who Started It All 45 Years Ago.
In January 1976, John Canning founded his own company and has since become a leading authority in the United States on traditional decorative painting techniques and materials and historic color palettes. Read More.
John Canning & Co. Timeline
Take a glimpse into the history of the past 45 plus years of the John Canning & Co. with this timeline highlighting some of the projects and events that have occurred. Check it Out.
Leadership Runs in the Family
Even though John Canning founded the company over 45 years ago and is the driving force that has made the company the success it is today, there are three other extraordinary people that have been a key part in the journey to where the company is today and will be going in the future. Read More.
Canning Liturgical Arts
We have had the honor to work on some of the nation’s most recognizable civic landmarks, classic theaters, museums, universities, and historic churches over the years. Due to the growing need for church restoration and beautification across the nation, the Canning Liturgical Arts (CLA) branch of John Canning & Co. was officially formed in 2015 to specialize in ecclesiastical art and design and fill that need. Before 2015 the idea of forming this specialized branch was just some thoughts and talk before any actual plan was formulated to make it a reality. 2015 and the creation of CLA marked a important milestone for the company's growth and direction. We have recently posted a video of Restoring Beauty in Churches Old & New to provide additional insight into the purpose and direction of the Canning Liturgical Arts branch. Check it Out.
John Meets The Queen
We don't have a great picture of it but John Canning did get to meet the Queen. Flash back to 2007, for the Virginia State Capitol project. For this project we were responsible for decorative painting and gilding in the Chamber of the House of Delegates, Senate Chamber and the Rotunda. As a result of being involved in this project we got invited to "Virginia's Royal Welcome". As a guest of the Governor, John was able to participate in this historic event and see her Majesty up close before she addressed the General Assembly on the Capitol Square.
John Receives Honorary AIA
In 2009 John was one of the 11 special people welcomed into the American Institute of Architects (AIA) family. Although not architects by profession, AIA recognized their contributions and service in the field of architecture with the title of Honorary AIA. John as an honorary member of the AIA is the only decorative painter in North America to be so honored.
John is the leading authority in the United States on traditional decorative painting techniques and materials and historic color palettes. Restoration architects and preservation leaders rely on John’s experience and often seek his advice on the interpretation of historic, period interiors with complex finish systems such as encaustic and distemper paints, simulated inlaid wood-grain, marbling, trompe l’oeil, architectural grisaille, freehand artwork, and old world gilding and glazing effects. It was a great day for John and the entire Canning Company family when he was honored by AIA. Read more on the 2009 Honorary AIAs.
Jackie and David Get Immersed In Their Work
A few years back, John Canning & Co. was invited to participate in a Kentsdale Designer Showhouse. For this project we designed and implemented an Art Deco Mural that depicted a scene from the viewpoint of standing on the deck of cruise ship with a distinguished couple enjoying the view. As we all know sometimes you have to bring a little fun into our work. Some of the fun for this project involved Jackie creating a dress to match the lady's dress she depicted in the mural. And for the showcase event, Jackie and David both dressed up to match the characters depicted in the mural. No one went overboard but they did enjoy immersing themselves in their work.
John Meets President George W. Bush
John Canning & Co. had the privileged of performing a historic finish analysis, consultation and the preservation and restoration of historic interior decoration at the National Historic Landmark Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The preservation and restoration work in the building's historic suite of rooms earned the 2008 White House Recognition Award and gave John the chance to meet President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. Laura Bush was a driving force in spearheading the restoration project to become a reality.
John Goes To Cuba
John has had the privilege to go to Cuba for various work related trips including for the Association for Preservation Technology International (APTI) study group/research travel program. The group consisted of architects, engineers, conservators, and other dedicated conservation and preservation professionals. Beside seeing Havana, visiting a 18th century village in Trinidad and other historic places, the group got to experience some of the Cuban culture and strengthen relationships. You know you are with a good group of people when everyone comes together to help out one of their fellow APT travelers whose bag never arrived and made sure they had everything they needed during the trip.
It's A Small World After All
Carey Wiper & Supply Co. has been a supplier of specialty cheesecloths and rags to John Canning & Co. - for decades! They recently reached out to share the story.
A while back, the Carey Wiper & Supply Co. owner's mother and young neice were on a trip to Europe. There they met John Canning and his wonderful grandkids! They found it funny to make the connection between the companies business relations halfway around the world! Thanks for Sharing Kenneth Byer.
David Meets Dick Cheney
John Canning & Co. had the privileged of performing a historic finish analysis, consultation and the preservation and restoration of historic interior decoration at the National Historic Landmark Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The preservation and restoration work in the building's historic suite of rooms gave David the chance to meet Vice President Dick Cheney.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
In 2006 we had the privilege to work with church-architect Duncan Stroik to provide the liturgical design scheme for a new shrine- The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. John Canning & Co. also executed all decorative finishes, which included gilding, stenciling, twenty-eight different faux marble finishes and three granite finishes, as well as a turquoise sky, designed to match the color of Our Lady’s mantle with gold-leaf constellations representing the constellations of Winter Solace. Work also included the metal framing and three-coat plaster as well as the fabrication installation of all ornamental plaster. You can read more this project in The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Bringing a New Church Interior to Life blog.
Grand Central Terminal- Sky Mural
John Canning & Co. is proud to have played an integral role in the award-winning restoration of Grand Central Station’s iconic ceiling.
In our forty-five year history, we have had the privilege of working on the most iconic US landmark buildings. The Sky Mural restoration at Grand Central Terminal is perhaps the quintessential example of conservation in its purest form. By fine-tuning conservation-quality cleaning agents we were able to methodically clean the mural and remove the decades of dirt without harming the mural. I think it still holds that it is the only project we have done that involved the use of “kiddie pools”. You can read more about that and other interesting facts in Inside The Sky Mural Restoration at Grand Central Terminal blog.
Radio City Music Hall
Designed by the famed Donald Deskey, the Radio City building serves as a glittering gem, which epitomizes the height of the Art Deco movement. John Canning & Co. was proud to be a part of this monumental gilding project and helped preserve one of America’s most iconic landmarks.
This award winning project involved restoring the original 1932 gilded finishes, including the application of aluminum leaf, Dutch metal leaf, copper leaf, and gold leaf. Over 90,000 square feet of surfaces were gilded throughout the building, which included the Grand Foyer, Orchestra Level, Mezzanine Levels, Basement, and Smokers’ Lounge. You can read more on the project in The Restoration of Radio City Music Hall blog.
Boston's Trinity Church
Trinity Church, built in 1877 is a National Historic Landmark that has been listed as one of the most significant buildings in the country. It’s listed #2 on PBS series 10 Buildings that Changed America.
This HH Richardson’s church established a new American architecture style, Richardsonian Romanesque. The historic restoration of the architectural art interior required a combination of decorative painting techniques and conservation of John La Farge’s encaustic historic murals that fully embrace every surface.
You can read more on the project in Trinity Church Restoring The Central Tower blog.
Old Senate Chambers, Maryland Statehouse
Old Senate Chambers, Maryland Statehouse, was built in 1772 in the Georgian style by Joseph Horatio.
We were tasks to return the Chamber to the original 1700's design using original methods and materials including limewash for the ceiling, lineseed oil for the woodwork, distemper paint for the walls, and hand-spit lath for the plaster repair.
You can read more on the details of this project in these blogs: Maryland Old Senate Chamber - Week 1 and Maryland Old Senate Chamber Restoration - Week 2.
Connecticut State Capitol
We have worked on many different projects at the Connecticut State Capitol over the years. Starting back in the 1980's to perform a total restoration of the Richard Mitchell Upjohn building. Areas restored included the Senate Chambers, and the House of Representatives as well as many other areas. You can read more this project in The History & Restoration of the Connecticut Capitol Building blog. This was also one of architect Thomas Manning's favorite projects. He still has framed wall stencils (some signed with John Canning's signature ) on display from the project. He shared a few pictures that you can see below.
Boston Public Library
John Canning & Co. was repeatedly chosen over a period of years and project phases to provide our expertise in analysis, interpretation, and implementation of historic conservation and restoration services in multiple public areas of the McKim building at Boston Public Library.
Spaces we worked on included: Bates Hall, Sargent Gallery, Abbey Room, French Room, and the entrance hall.
Yale University - Sterling Memorial Library
John Canning & Co. has performed a variety of different projects over the years for Yale University. Sterling Memorial Library, designed as a cathedral of learning, is placed at the heart of Yale University and being one of the campus's most iconic buildings and largest library made it special project for the company to undertake. The goal of the project was to conducted archival research, hands-on investigation, and interpretation to inform the conservation cleaning and restoration of plaster, wood, and decorative finishes designed by James Gamble Rogers.
University of Virginia - Garrett Hall
The Garrett Hall plaster project is a favorite suggested by Tom Whitmore of Christman Company. " We had a project that included the restoration of the plaster ceiling at Garrett Hall at the University of Virginia and we partnered with John Canning. The contract documents showed a fairly invasive method of reattaching the historic plaster panels back to structure but Canning offered an alternative which simply reinforced the original method of attachment and also agreed to enter into a GMP-style subcontract on an open-book basis to do the work. The architect, the University and Christman were all pleased with the approach and especially the outcome which restored the historic presence of the grand space while protecting all parties from risk. It was a true success story in dealing with a complicated preservation task."
The National Historic Landmark, Hulihe'e Palace is a former vacation home to Hawaiian royalty that is completely constructed out of lava rock. Now a cultural museum, it was severely damaged by an earthquake in 2006. This caused significant structural damage and cracking in the lava rock. We were brought in to restore the damage plaster. Our expertise in plaster repair and restoration was essential for the successful restoration and repair of the Palace's plaster-over-lava-rock construction.
John Canning & Co. has done a few projects over the years at the US Capitol Building. Work has included the restoration of the decorative paint, stone & marble restoration, incised-letter gilding, and metal refinishing. We were selected to replicate the trompe l’oeil in the East and West Inner Corridors. After fully exposing and conserving a panel at the South wall of the East Inner Corridor, the final replication was to have a sfumato appearance (softening the transition between colors) to match the conserved panel and emulate its patina, wear, and variation. Work on another Corridor included a decorative arts conservation project. The conservation and replication of the wall panels and all associated decorative borders, ornamental friezes, pilasters, and conservation of the three “Maiden Figures” in the corridor took place.
St. Patrick's Cathedral, NYC
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a New York City landmark, designed in the Gothic Revival style by James Renwick, Jr. and completed in 1878. In preparation for a major building restoration, construction manager Structure Tone hired us to interpret Building Conservation Associates (BCA) report findings and to provide material and finish options for BCA’s specifications. We performed large-scale mock ups of stone cleaning, paint removal samples, and finish restorations to demonstrate historic colors, materials, and techniques.
What flower is used in the John Canning & Co. Logo?
The Thistle Flower is designed into part of the Canning 'C' logo. The Scottish thistle is Scotland's national flower, the country that John Canning is from. Scotland is were John Canning was raised as well as where he studied and did his apprenticeship in the traditional decorative painting techniques, materials and historic color palettes that has helped make him the historic finishes and preservation specialist he is today.
What was one of the most enjoyable outdoor weather projects for John Canning & Co.?
Doris Duke’s Shangri La -The oceanfront estate of heiress Doris Duke with a picturesque setting amid swaying palms and sea breezes in the tropical paradise of Hawaii situated right up against the Pacific surf, high atop a lava-stone sea wall.
The Canning crew got to enjoy the beautiful Hawaii island weather when we traveled there to restore the phenomenally intricate, historic Islamic stencil decoration at Doris Duke’s Shangri La, Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures.
This was also a favorite project submitted by Molly Fortune of Architectural Conservation, Inc. who was part of the project team.
Check out the Shangri La Project Portfolio for more information.
What John Canning & Co. undertaking required the use of scissors, bagpipes and a large group of people?
The Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Cheshire Office.
In August 2004 on a nice sunny day the John Canning Ribbon Cutting took place at 150 Commerce Court Office. The day included a grand celebration with some of the Canning Company's extended team, the official ribbon cutting, food, and entertainment that of course had to include bagpipes for that added Scottish flare.
When is the best time to start introducing the architectural arts traditional methods and techniques to the potential future generation of artisans?
It's never too young!
Here we can see Jackie showing one of her kids, who is standing and watching closely, the gilding process on the one of the statues for the Old State House Statues. For this project Canning prepared the surface, primed and gilded each statue with genuine gold leaf using traditional gilding materials and techniques.
Do you have a Canning story?
We would love to hear from any of our team members (owners, contractors, engineers, architects) that we have had the pleasure to work with over the years. If you have a story, favorite memory or something that you want to share, feel free to send us an email.