Mullen Library Bronze Door

Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

Mullen Library is one of the hallmark buildings on the campus of the Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC. Built through a generous bequest by John Kernan Mullen, the library was completed in 1925 in a palazzo style with neo-Byzantine detailing. The large entrance portal is dominated by a monumental set of solemn bronze doors, with delicate bronze latticework and small glass panes filling the transom.

The entrance had become soiled and worn after years of continual use and exposure. Atmospheric soiling had collected over all surfaces, particularly in the sheltered stone tympanum and archivolt over the doors. Active corrosion had developed on the bronze, particularly along the lower 18” of the doors. Cast elements had become damaged or lost.

We were contracted in 2003 to complete the restoration and re-finishing of these doors and the entrance surrounds, as part of a major building-wide renovation. The doors were demounted at the outset of the project to facilitate disassembly and reconstruction of the hinges and locking mechanisms. The doors were cleaned of loose corrosion products and surface soiling using anionic detergents and rinsing with moderate pressure filtered water, solvents and fine nylon pad abrasives. Distorted, damaged or missing elements were repaired or recast in bronze and mounted. The existing patina was chemically adjusted to match the appropriate historic tones and all bronze surfaces were coated with hot-applied NPS formula waxes. Glass inserts were protected from damage throughout the work. The limestone portal was also treated at this time.