Before and After: Our Lady of the Rosary in San Diego

Conrad Schmitt Studios recently drew our attention to another 'before and after' project, this time coming within the context of Our Lady of the Rosary in San Diego, California. The project in question was primarily focused on the restoration and reinvigoration of the historical painted works of the church, but in addition also involved the removal of the carpeting in the church to reveal the spectacular marble flooring. Here is the studio's own account of the project: 
The decoration and murals of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church were covered in multiple layers of dirt, candle soot, and discolored varnish. Much of the original decoration was faded or had been painted over. The restoration plan was guided by a historic black and white photograph. Although the photograph clearly laid out the decoration, the original colors could only be speculated. CSS was commissioned to conduct an on-site investigation that documented the original colors as well as the conditions of the murals in the space. The mural inspection included a cleaning test, adhesion analysis, and a recommended treatment plan for their conservation. The beautifully restored church stands in tribute to the spiritual life of San Diego's Little Italy and the forefathers that built the church in 1923.
And, as always, here are the before and after views, beginning with the 'before.'

As with so much in our time, projects such as these are invariably ones of recovery and restoration in significant part -- something both gratifying and frustrating all at once. The reclamation of the older decorative scheme brings back a layer of visual interest to the church that brings the whole into greater harmony with its various parts. While the 'before' was no doubt done at a time when whitewashing was popular in view of the notions of "simplicity" of the period, what it created in the end was a sense of top heavy decorative imbalance and an unfinished church. We can be thankful, however, that the primary murals were left untouched and the restorations and reclamations have now revivified the church building.

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