Surprise discovery at the old Warren Armory

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Volunteers at the old Warren Armory on Jefferson Street uncovered another of the building’s many mysteries while working on the old structure last week.

Workers uncovered previously unknown hand-painted filigree work as they removed tin panelling to make way for the installation of new pocket doors along the main north wall. The discovery of the small stretch of filigree at about eye level was a big surprise, said the armory’s Ed Theberge. Even though the 1842 building’s long renovation has been marked by many unexpected finds, it was still a thrill to stumble across the hand-painted artwork laid down nearly 175 years ago.

“You never know what you’re going to find,” he said.

This section of what appears to be an old seal or crest was found above a doorway when the tin paneling was removed.

This section of what appears to be an old seal or crest was found above a doorway when the tin paneling was removed.

The discovery immediately led to more, as Mr. Theberge and others continued to remove tin panelling elsewhere in the building. Further down the same wall, they uncovered more of the filigree, as well as other faded bits of decorative work atop the old plaster. One small fragment of painting above a doorway also looks to be the remnants of an original crest or seal; The letters “RR,” possibly from “Warren,” are all that’s left.

The discoveries are generating a fair bit of talk within the armory’s leadership. Workers plan to clear away more tinwork in hopes of uncovering the painting, but are not sure what direction they’ll take if they find it. Mr. Theberge said he would like to preserve the filigree where possible, as it’s an irreplaceable part of the building’s history. But he doesn’t know how extensive it is throughout the hall; more tin removal this week should yield more clues, either way.

“Once we look we’ll have a better idea of what’s going on, and what we’ll do,” he said Monday morning.

In the meantime, Warren artist Richard Kaiser has traced out one large section of filigree about six feet long, and will probably reproduce it later.

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