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Historic Beaufort Foundation

By Mary Thompson 

PAINT THE LADY

Perhaps you’ve driven past the historic John Mark Verdier House and noticed she could use a fresh coat of paint. You aren’t the only one. At the Historic Beaufort Foundation, we have been raising funds to repair and repaint the John Mark Verdier House and are excited to announce that the time for our “Paint the Lady” project is finally here! Work started in the beginning of February and is anticipated to take 8 to 9 weeks.

As a resident (or visitor) of Beaufort, you may know that the John Mark Verdier House is one of the town’s architectural jewels. John Mark Verdier built this house in the center of downtown Beaufort between 1801 and 1805. The house became a symbol of Verdier’s success as a merchant as well as the influence of the Adam brothers on the Beaufort Style of architecture. While the house remained in the ownership of the Verdier family until the 1940s it never served as a private residence after the Civil War but served as commercial space for a wide variety of businesses. Unfortunately, all this change was extremely destructive to the grand historic house. Due to its decline, the building was placed on the city’s demolition list in the mid 1900s. If it weren’t for a group of concerned Beaufort citizens who banded together to save the house from demolition, we would not enjoy the beauty and history of this magnificent house today.

As you may know, the John Mark Verdier House currently operates as a historic house museum. The house will be closed during the renovation. We will be sure to keep you informed as to our progress and projected reopening dates. And, we promise, this preservation project will be worth the wait! With the museum closing for a short time, we are providing an opportunity for you to learn more about this historic property prior to its reopening. We’ve put together videos about the history of the home on our website for you to enjoy by following this link.

What exactly will be happening to the house during the renovation?

Let us give you a glimpse into the preservation process:

Paint

Although the John Mark Verdier House dates back to the early 1800s, its current exterior color pattern was based on historic paint color analysis documenting the mid- nineteenth century and evidence from Civil War era photographs.   We are pleased to share that, with continuing assistance from Susan Buck, noted paint color expert, we will return the house to its original ca. 1804 appearance. Instead of the salmon paint color you are used to, we will be taking the house back to its original creamy white exterior color. The rendition below will give you a better idea of what to expect.

Recent research, by Colin Brooker, indicated the tabby foundation was originally covered in a waterproof “cement” invented in London in the 1790’s.  Paint analysis indicated the foundation was then painted a dark brown and scored (a technique also known as penciling) to appear as it was ashlar stone.  This type of faux painting was typical of the Federal Period of architecture.   Historic Beaufort Foundation is excited that the new research will guide the renovation paint scheme.

Repairs

To begin with, the house will be hand scraped and hand painted and damaged or deteriorating wood will be replaced on the exterior of the building. The preservation team will go to painstaking effort to match the historic nature of the building, The repair process will likely be slow as we follow appropriate preservation practices and due to the age of the building. Extra care must be taken to ensure no further damage is caused.

Do you want to be a part of this amazing effort? You still have the opportunity to assist us in preserving Beaufort’s architectural history! While we have secured enough funding for this extensive renovation project to move forward, we are still raising funds to ensure the completion of the renovation. You can visit our website at Historicbeaufort.org to make a donation or find more information about our preservation plans. Help us “Paint the Lady” and bring back the grandeur of our beloved John Mark Verdier House.

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