Expand Menu
Close Menu
Yale Manuscripts Decorative Painting Banner
Home | What's Going On | Blog

5 Before & After Decorative Painting Transformations at Educational Institutions

John Canning & Co. excels at decorative painting restoration – and the stunning transformations speak for themselves. These five before and after transformations at higher education institutions are a few of our favorites. Each of these projects has truly brought these historic places back to life.


1) Yale Manuscripts and Archives

As part of a comprehensive upgrade to the building systems at the Yale Manuscripts & Archives Library in New Haven, Connecticut, the historic finishes throughout the building were conserved and restored. Our team consulted on the preservation of these finishes, analyzed the historic paint, and provided conservation cleaning recommendations to restore the decoratively painted stone, plaster, and historic woodwork. After consulting on the restoration, our team executed the proposed preservation plans and restored the decorative and architectural paint and woodwork.

Yale Manuscripts & Archives ceiling cleaning test patch (left) and final result of the restoration project (right)

2) Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel

Our project at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel at Thomas Aquinas College in Northfield, Massachusetts, required the conversion of a once protestant interior to one of unapologetic Catholicism. It was desired that the chapel be highly decorated within the Country Gothic simplicity already provided by the architectural lines of the 1909 building. We developed a color palette derived from the colors found in the Mother of Perpetual Help icon and stencil decoration unique to the interior. The final result is a unique, truly Catholic, remarkable design that transformed the chapel. Thomas Aquinas College was ecstatic about the redesign of the chapel, and the community now cherishes the space that serves as the central focus of the Northfield campus.

Early Protestant design (left) and new Catholic style (right) at Our Mother of Perpetual Help

3) Rackham Auditorium

Our team worked on an extensive restoration project at Rackham Auditorium at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2014. The auditorium served as a space for lectures, conferences, and other university events; however, it was in desperate need of repair before the university could use it again. The ceiling was experiencing flaking, peeling paint, and plaster damage. The project also proved to be especially tricky, as the substrates tested positive for lead, and the affected areas needed to go through OSHA-compliant lead remediation, containment, and disposal before any further work could occur. Once this was complete, we provided conservation of the surfaces within the space, including plaster conservation, gilding, and decorative painting restoration services. The original ceiling designs were reinstated, and the restoration allowed the university to use this space again.

Rackham Auditorium detail ceiling before (left) and after (middle) restoration, and overall auditorium view after restoration (right)

4) Culinary Institute of America

During our project at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, we performed historic paint analysis and paint exposures to reveal original colors and campaigns. Our team created new designs and restored original paint schemes, reviving the space and bringing it back to its original ecclesiastical decoration. The extensive restoration project included general and decorative painting, decorative finishes, stained glass window restoration, woodwork, stone restoration, plaster consolidation, flooring, new lighting & HVAC, and fire alarms and sound systems. Farquharson Hall, a spectacular student dining area, is a perfect example of the respectful adaptive reuse of sacred spaces.

Culinary Institute of America Farquharson Hall before (left) and after (right) our restoration project

5) Barker Library Dome

Canning served as a consultant for historic finish exposures and paint analysis for the Barker Library Dome at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Our team also performed the full restoration of the finishes within the space, including the Beaux Arts building’s Grand Lobby, Loggias, and the Great Rotunda. Work was comprised of decorative paint, stone & marble restoration, incised-letter gilding, and metal refinishing. Throughout the restoration, we collaborated with multiple departments at the university, including the President’s office.

Barker Library Dome before (left) and after (right) restoration

To learn more about our decorative painting restoration services, visit our services page for a process overview and specialty breakdown. Canning is always looking for new projects; if you have a historic restoration or conservation project that could benefit from our services or an industry specialist’s expert opinion, please request a consultation to be connected with one of our preservation professionals.

Canning C

January 16, 2023

Featured Projects

Yale Library Ceiling Featured Image

Yale Manuscripts & Archives

John Canning & Co. consulted on the preservation of finishes and executed the preservation of decorative and architectural paint and woodwork for the Yale Manuscripts & Archives.

Thomas Aquinas Chapel

Thomas Aquinas Chapel

Thomas Aquinas College’s Campus Chapel project required the conversion of a once protestant interior to one of unapologetic Catholicism.

Rackham Auditorium, University of Michigan

Our conservation team restored the interior decoration painting, architectural gilding, and plaster at Rackham Auditorium, University of Michigan.

Culinary Institute of America

John Canning & Co. combined preservation research, restoration, and conservation of the original Jesuit chapel sacred design with new decoration elements designed to adapt the space for secular events and student dining.

Barker Library Dome Restoration, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

We served as a consultant for restoring the decorative paint, stone & marble, gilding, and metal refinishing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Higher Education Restoration Guide
John Canning & Co. Resources

As a conservation studio and restoration contractor, our team of highly skilled craftsmen, artisans, and conservators are experienced in the use of traditional methods and materials. We understand the importance in sharing our expertise and knowledge in our field.

Check Out Our Higher Education Restoration Guide