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Cleaning & Restoring the Upper Ballroom: Belcourt of Newport

The Upper Ballroom suffered severe water damage. At a staggering 11,000 square feet, it took a whole month to be cleaned by a team of five men—and, after being rid of buckets of dust, it had to be washed and sanded twice. It will take 40 gallons of primer and 40 gallons of paint to refresh the walls and the ceiling. The ceiling paint will be sprayed on, and anything below the cornice will be hand-rolled and brushed. To prevent buckling, all the Gothic stained glass windows had to be removed, disassembled, and re-leaded because they were not properly reinforced with steel supports when originally installed. The grand fireplace restoration began by washing off 115 years of soot and dust from the walls. The fixture was then thoroughly cleaned with ammonia, vinegar and baking soda. Intricate details like helmets and swords had been built into decorative figurines, which were built into the plaster chimney, and had to be retooled and remade—all by hand.

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