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Building Conservation Associates

Vanderbilt Mansion

Location: Hyde Park, New York
Original Architect: McKim, Mead & White
Year Built: 1896-1899

Vanderbilt Mansion, designed by McKim, Mead, and White and built from 1896 to 1899, was used as a vacation home for Frederick Vanderbilt and is now a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service (NPS). The grand Beaux-Arts estate has 54 rooms and is constructed of of Indiana Limestone.

BCA was retained by the National Park Service to perform an on-site examination of the ceiling of the Dining Room. The ceiling was brought from Italy by Stanford White and installed in 1899. New elements were fabricated by the firm of Herter Brothers and added to the original composition in order to match the size of the new space. The Dining Room ceiling survives virtually unaltered since its installation. BCA assessed the conditions of the historic ceiling and identified the elements in most need of conservation. BCA performed conservation stabilization treatment of the gilded cornice dentils and the decoratively painted major beam soffits including dry cleaning techniques. A monitoring system to control relative humidity and limit future paint loses on the ceiling was recommended.

As part of a separate project, BCA performed a conditions assessment of the pergola on the grounds of Vanderbilt Mansion and developed design documents for the sensitive restoration of those architectural elements.