John Canning & Co. Earns the 2020 Bulfinch Award in the Craftsmanship/Artisanship Category.

2020 Bulfinch Award Winner

Cheshire CT, March 2020: John Canning & Co., earned the 2020 Bulfinch Award in the Craftsmanship/Artisanship category for the work completed at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut. John Canning & Co., restored the architectural woodwork and plaster as well as reinstated the wallcoverings in The Mahogany Suite.

The Bulfinch Awards are hosted by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art New England Chapter (ICAA New England) and recognize practitioners from across the nation who are committed to promoting excellence in the classical tradition and allied arts within New England. All eligible projects work toward building upon the legacy of Boston's early Federal architect, Charles Bulfinch, who is widely regarded to be the first native-born American to work in the field professionally. Initiated in 2010 and modeled on the ICAA’s Arthur Ross Awards, the New England Bulfinch Awards program is an annual competition.

About The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art- The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the classical tradition in architecture, urbanism and their allied arts. It does so through education, publication, and advocacy. The Institute is headquartered in New York City with regional chapters across the United States. It offers a wide array of programs that are designed to promote the appreciation and practice of classical and traditional design, including classes, travel, lectures, and conferences. It publishes an academic journal called the Classicist as well as the acclaimed book series called the Classical America Series in Art and Architecture.

Mark Twain House

The Mark Twain House and Museum was built in 1874, was originally the home of author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who you may recognize under the pen name, Mark Twain. The Mark Twain House and Museum was one of the first one-hundred properties in the nation to be designated a National Landmark. Designed in a Victorian Gothic Revival style, the Mahogany Suite was best known as the guest suite where the family would host their guests and close friends. Before the restoration, the space had been closed since the Early 2000’s.

The Mahogany Suite project involved various levels of craftsmanship from John Canning & Co., to restore a key room in the Mark Twain House & Museum for its visitors to be able to enjoy and experience a glimpse into the life of Mark Twain. This project required an understanding of traditional historic finishes in order to be able to return the space to the “royal chamber” it was famously known for. The woodwork throughout the suite had incurred serious water damage in multiple areas and the overall interior was unfortunately suffering from staining and failing finishes. The original mahogany woodwork was stripped and restored to its historic finish using traditional aniline dyes. The plaster had sustained serious water damage in several areas and was repaired and restored. The historic wallcoverings, were reinstated throughout the space. Within the Mahogany suite, five different wallpapers were used to restore the interior: the ceiling, frieze, wall field, wainscot, and baseboard border. Traditional wallpaper installation techniques needed to be used in order to make the wallpapers blend seamlessly.

The project team was led by Architect David Scott Parker who did a tremendous amount of archival research and examination of conditions for the historic fabric including wall sconces, bath fixtures and hardware alike.  David Scott Parker was also front and center of the design of the period wallpaper. He studied wall patterns of the period, most notably Candice Wheeler of Associated Artists for development of the wallpaper pattern designs.  Downes Construction Company is highly regarded in New England for the restoration of historic buildings and was the general contractor for this project. They also were self-performing some of the trade work including restoration carpentry.

Through a team effort from the General Contractor Downes Construction and Architect David Scott Parker, and John Canning &Co. the Mark Twain House and Museum’s Mahogany Suite can now be enjoyed by the tens of thousands of visitors it gets every year.

Located in Cheshire, CT., John Canning & Co., is one of the nation’s experts in historic restoration, conservation and preservation. John Canning & Co. offers services in a variety of areas including: conservation, planning, designing, historic paint analysis, plaster condition surveys, restoration, decorative finishes and painting, budgeting and consulting.  John Canning & Co. with over 40 years of experience has received numerous awards and have been entrusted to restore state capitols, courthouses, churches, libraries, museums, theatres, educational establishments and other historic buildings. It is with great honor that we accept our third Bulfinch Award. Previously, John Canning & Co., won a Bulfinch Award in 2017 for work completed at Saint Patrick’s Church in Lowell, Massachusetts, and in 2013 for work completed at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick’s in Norwich, Connecticut.

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