Council Chambers

Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia, PA



At the time of its construction in the late 1800s, Philadelphia’s City Hall was both the world’s largest and tallest municipal building. Built as a testament to the success and aspirations of the City, the Victorian era structure is a grand example of the Second Empire style, with elaborate ornamentation both inside and out. One of the finest examples of that ornamentation is found in the City Council Chambers, with its fine plaster moldings and rich color scheme. However, a plumbing leak in an upper floor had badly damaged the plaster and decorative paint.


Materials Conservation’s was retained to repair the damage, and do so on a tight deadline to accommodate City Council’s summer break. Because our time on site would be limited, the project required precision planning and advance work. Working in our lab and studio, replica plaster moldings were fashioned and dozens of linear yards of panels were painted to replicate the decorative color scheme. Once onsite, we salvaged and stabilized as much original plaster and paint as possible. In applying our studio-made replica panels, MC eliminated the need to remove original and fragile materials. MC’s skilled team pulled off this complicated job with ease, proud of their role in maintaining the magnificence of our city’s landmark building.

Sukari Keetin