Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 13, 2013

The rare art of restoring

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — Tom Schurr is putting in long hours at the Paramount Arts Center, practicing the family art and craft of plaster repair.

Schurr’s great-grandfather started Julius Schnurr and Sons restoration company in 1892. The Louisville-based company is repairing the murals in the Paramount’s auditorium that were damaged by a recent leak in the west wall.

Schurr and co-worker Mike Gorman are performing a controlled removal of parts of the plaster and matching up new plaster.

“The texture of the wall varies within a mural,” he said. “It’s especially challenging trying to match and trying to get it to look like it hasn’t been patched.”

Restorers also have the task of recreating strips of moulding that appears in and around murals. Schurr said the restoration is expected to take about 80 hours between the two workers and they hope to be finished by Thursday.

“It’s hard to judge these things,” he said. “When you have leak damage and so many colors and so many textures you can’t hop around and look at it and know how much work it’s going to take.”

After Schurr is finished, the painting begins.

David Musselman of Louisville, who has cleaned and retouched the Paramount’s murals before, will take over restoration work, painting the replaster murals in the style they were created and touching up other spots.

Paramount Executive Director Kathy Setterman said the painter has worked on the Paramount murals since 1983 and was referred to her by the state’s preservation office.

“We are very sensitive to keeping the auditorium authentic,” she said.

The project could run as much as $45,000, including the masonry work and sealing the north and west walls of the building, which is the most costly aspect, Setterman said. She said the plaster work is expected to cost about $4,000 and the painting about $5,000.

“The building has so much history we’re really blessed we have artisans who are making it reasonable for us to restore it and have the talent to restore it,” Setterman said.

The 80-year-old Paramount’s murals were originally painted by Italian artist Vincent Mondo.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or

(606) 326-2661.