Independence Hall  Paint Analysis
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E-mail: fswelsh @
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Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 Independence Hall  Paint Analysis
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Independence Hall was constructed in the 1730s, and its Stair Tower was added in the 1750s. Known as the Pennsylvania State House, it was the site of the early planning and establishment of the United States of America in the mid-to-late 1770s. The building is owned by the City of Philadelphia and underwent a major restoration directed by the National Park Service between the 1950s and 1970s. The restoration period of the building is 1776-1780.

During the investigation of original finishes for that restoration, Penelope Hartshorne Batcheler pioneered the use of the microscope for examination of historical paints. Her method has greatly influenced modern techniques of paint analysis, and the colors and finishes she discovered in Independence Hall were restored at that time. This was the first major restoration in the country to incorporate the bright hues now commonly associated with the 18th century American interior. In 1988, Mrs. Batcheler asked Frank S. Welsh to analyze the pigment composition of the original paints in the Long Gallery and the Tower Stairhall. The results of this research, highlighting the particle characteristics of the pigment Prussian Blue, were published in the AIC Journal, Volume 27, 1988. (See Article # 15 in the Publications page of this website)

In the early 1990s, the National Park Service engaged the services of Welsh Color & Conservation, Inc. to collaborate with Mrs. Batcheler in reevaluating the original colors of the building. The results of the joint investigation and analysis closely matched those of the earlier efforts. This campaign of finishes analysis was then incorporated into a broader study of all of the Independence Square buildings by a local architectural firm. During a major utilities upgrade of the buildings, the interiors of Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and Old City Hall were repainted using the reevaluated colors documented by Welsh Color & Conservation, Inc.

Long Gallery Prussian Blue
Tower Stair Hall Pigment Analysis
Above are two photographs of the restored interior of Independence Hall. The image on the left shows the Long Gallery and the image on the right displays the Tower Stairhall.