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Besides the chair rails, one of the other important elements missing at the beginning of the Restoration were the finishes for the walls.  Because most of the Madison-era plaster had been removed after the Madison’s sold Montpelier, very little evidence was left to tell the Restoration Team what types of paint or wallpaper had covered the walls.  In some instances traces of wallpaper were discovered, but in a majority of the rooms, all traces of the wall finishes had been lost.  A major tool that was used to recover the wall finishes was paint analysis.  Even though much of the original plaster had been removed, it was occasionally possible to recover microscopic fragments of the Madison period finishes by taking samples from the sides of window and door trim.  This is possible because wall paints or wallpapers are often accidently brushed or overlapped onto the trim, and so traces of the finishes and papers can, in rare circumstances, survive encapsulated under later paints.


Dr. Susan Buck investigating the window trim in the Drawing Room.