Cast Iron Capitals

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

The cast iron capitals and fragments in the collection of the University of Virginia are among the few surviving remnants of the Rotunda Annex built in 1853, and designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument. The Annex was destroyed by fire in 1895; however, the remaining elements embody the building’s aesthetic and classical iconography.

We were contracted by the University of Virginia in 2011 to perform a condition assessment and make recommendations for treatment to the five capitals, which are been displayed in shaded, damp garden settings. Without supplemental protection, the capitals were exposed to a wide range of deterioration, including soiling, flaking, cracking, and corrosion.

We mobilized in October of 2016 to treat the West Range and Monroe Hill capitals. Pressurized water was used to prepare the iron surfaces for coating. A corrosion converter was applied to create a stable iron surface. Individual elements found to be loose or missing were reattached where possible based on a case-by-case basis. Deteriorated corner volute brackets were replaced with custom stainless steel brackets.

Our conservators provided treatment documentation to the University as well as maintenance recommendations.