St. George Theatre, Paint Study

Staten Island, NY

The St. George Theatre is located in the historic St. George district of Staten Island. The theater was built between 1928 and 1929 as a state-of-the-art theater for vaudeville and cinema. Like other movie palaces of its time, the interior decorative style is an amalgam of opulent elements from Spanish and Italian Baroque tradition.

Our conservators were called in to investigate historic interior plaster and painted finishes in the St. George Theatre. The purpose of the finishes investigation is to support restoration efforts by broadly documenting the condition of selected historic plaster walls and ceilings, as well as to gain a general understanding of historic decorative schemes and color palettes.

On-site investigation concluded that flat plaster and cast plaster ornament are threatened by excessive moisture. The limited finishes investigation indicated that original decorative finishes remain presenting in selective areas as well as beneath existing overpaint. Most extant finishes have severely deteriorated over time, and no longer represent their intended colors. Microscopy examination identified a unique technique that was used to provide a translucency to the backgrounds of the gilded ornament, highlighting and complementing the burnish of the Dutch leaf, as well as providing an effect not unlike glossy stained ivory, as opposed to a matte and flat painted plaster. This would have gone well with the romantic baroque style of the theater.