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Exterior of the Daniel and Catherine Hiester House, Montgomery County, PA. 

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Cross-section samples from the Hiester house.

Paint Analysis at Daniel and Catherine Hiester House

During the Summer of 2020, I worked on an architectural paint analysis project that was generously funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Art Conservation Department at the University of Delaware.


The Daniel and Catharine Hiester house, built in 1757 in what is now Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, is an unusual example of Palladian-style architecture (typically associated with Georgian English taste) combined with Germanic interior details (including ornate strap hinges on the doors, flat vase-shaped balusters on the stairway, and a built-in schrank, or closet, in an upstairs bedchamber).


The house is also historically significant because the Hiesters held at least thirteen enslaved people in captivity at the site. These enslaved workers labored at the homestead and at Daniel Hiester’s nearby brickworks and tannery, and they likely were involved in the construction of the house as well. This history of enslavement is manifested in the house itself in its use of labor-intensive brick and pit-sawn lumber and in its architectural design, which includes a large-scale second kitchen that was likely used to feed the enslaved workforce.


The house has recently been acquired by a private nonprofit foundation that is working to restore the building and make it accessible to visitors. This restoration project is being led by Lisa Minardi, the executive director of Historic Trappe, a nearby center for Pennsylvania German studies. Under Lisa’s guidance, the house is undergoing a meticulous, research-based campaign to return it to its as-built condition, including major structural work and restoration of windows, ironwork, flooring, walls, and millwork, all based on extant physical evidence.

I worked with Catherine Matsen, Conservation Scientist at Winterthur Museum, to plan this project and to analyze paint samples at Winterthur's Scientific Research and Analysis Lab.

View Finish Analysis Report HERE

Gavin Ashworth

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