King’s Theatre isn’t the only place we’re working in Brooklyn; we’re also started work at Grace Episcopal Church in Brooklyn Heights. Grace Church was designed in 1847 by the prolific Richard Upjohn, one of the leading Gothic Revivalists of the 19th century. In 2010, our conservation team conducted a full scale investigation of the paint and decorative finishes with the hope of discovering the original decoration. What lay beneath, covered by layers of overpaint that attempted to “modernize” Grace Church, was a lush decorative painting scheme.
There were visual clues throughout the church, including repeated fleurs-de-lis and swirling vines in the stained glass, ornament, and tile. Using mechanical and chemical processes, we stripped the non-historic paint, and analyzed paint layers and materials under a microscope. We discovered a decorative scheme, based on the Garden of Eden, that unified all the decorative elements. With the stars on the ceiling, and exquisite floral patterns on the walls hidden, the original message had been lost.
After extensive historic research, we realized the decorative scheme was inspired by Augustus Pugin’s “Glossary of Ecclesiastical Ornament” originally published in 1844. There were some striking similarities between Pugin’s designs and the church’s original decoration. Our Sacred Space designers devised a decorative concept based on what was found and on Pugin’s Gothic Revivalist style that would reinstate the visual language of the interior. In collaboration with Leo Blackman Architects and the congregation’s leadership we developed a harmonious color palette and design scheme that is historically sympathetic to the original 1866 decorative painting.
This rendering was created in our studio, showing 2 of our design options for the decorative scheme. The final design is still in development.
We’re thrilled to be part of the design & construction team for the renewal of Grace Church, which is expected to be completed in early 2014. For more information on the project, visit Grace Church’s website here.