Conservation Solutions, Inc: Art + Architecture + Artifacts

Stone Mosaic Floor Assessment - Spokane Post Office

Site
Spokane Post Office, Spokane, Washington

The Spokane Federal Building and US Post Office is a landmark building that blends Beaux Arts Classicism and Renaissance Revival elements. Completed in 1909 to a design by architect James Knox Taylor, this was the first federal building in the upper northwest United States. Among many significant features, the building is known for its grand lobbies, most notably its sweeping entrance floors. The floor is composed of a variety of contrasting materials, including cream terrazzo and dark green verde antique marble, which border a large central stone tile mosaic with tesserae in shades of orange, green, and white. The mosaic showed particularly significant wear after decades of foot traffic, including worn, cracked, or missing pieces. Several large cracks also segmented the floor overall.

Conservation Solutions, Inc. was brought in to assess the condition of the floor and determine means and methods for restoration and repair. CSI conservators reviewed off-site historic documentation and performed an on-site investigation. Types and extents of deterioration were surveyed and mapped on baseline drawings. The floor was cored and the tile sampled for matching. CSI researched compatible materials and prepared a recommended methodology for restoration of the floor, including varied options for different levels of intervention. CSI subsequently sourced and obtained likely and commercially available sources of replacement material, including both natural and synthetic stone. Conservators then performed mock-ups of the recommended treatment methodology along one of the existing floor cracks. Tailed and/or missing tiles adjacent to the crack were replaced with the newly sourced material and integrated with the existing. Examples of all three colors of tesserae were installed.