Cosmos Club Restoration

Canning scheduled all trades and performed specialty contracting to conserve and restore fine-art murals, ornamental plaster, gilding, decorative finishes and the parquet floor of the ornately decorated Cosmos Club ballroom in Washington, DC.

Located on Embassy Row near Dupont Circle, it was originally built as a private residence for socialite Mary Scott Townsend. The exclusive Cosmos Club purchased the estate in 1950. The opulent ballroom is one of the most coveted event spaces in DC and provides substantial income for the club.

Canning served as the prime specialty trade contractor and conservator for the restoration. As such, we were able to schedule all work efficiently, and return the restored ballroom to the club six weeks early, allowing additional income to be secured with its rental.

The project included restoration of the historic plaster, painting, gilding, fine art, woodwork, and parquet floor, back to its appearance in the period 1901-15. These dates were chosen because the only surviving historic photographs of the Townsend Mansion interior are those published in the Architectural Record in 1901 and Frances Benjamin Johnston’s photographs circa 1915.

Following the work in the ballroom, Canning was brought back in once again to restore the Lobby. Large areas of the entrance lobby had sustained severe water damage at ornamental mouldings and the historic scored plaster. Part of a larger renovation project, the plaster surfaces were restored to blend seamlessly with the original in texture and appearance.

The historic paint scheme was reinstated using a potassium silicate paint to provide the essence of stone and restore the entrance lobby’s original grandeur. Door modifications required cast ornament and new doors to be woodgrained to match the historic mahogany doors throughout the space. The marble flooring was also cleaned and restored to its original luster.



2017 District of Columbia Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation, DC Preservation League