Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Historic Preservation (MHP)


Historic Preservation

Committee Chair/Advisor

Frances Ford

Committee Member

Dr. Stéphanie Cretté

Committee Member

Amalia Leifeste

Committee Member

Elizabeth Ryan


This research examines the early interior finishes of the Clemson Architectural Foundation (CAF) Charles E. Daniel Center for Building Research and Urban Studies villa in Genoa, Italy. The research develops a process to suggest the period one interior paint scheme. Purchased by Clemson in 1973, the villa possesses much of its architectural integrity, but lacks information of its original interior fabric. Secondary sources establish a circa 1899 construction date for the building. Thus, the research question is: what best practice investigation, testing, and research methods should a preservationist use to discover the first period interior finishes for the late 19th to early 20th century Italian villa? This question will be answered by using a case study method. Cross-sectional analysis of interior finishes is proposed to identify the progression of color in the villa as well as tracked changes made to the interior of the villa. Looking at the paint samples carefully for indications of aggressive paint preparation of the substrate beneath the first layer of paint is a critical inflection point in the proposed best-practice method. If the first layer observed in the sample shows signs of aggressive preparation (paint stripping, sanding, blasting), then the first layer of the sample is unlikely to be the original, first layer of interior finish. A second mode of analysis, Scanning Electron Microscopy and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), identifies ‘marker’ elements that are associated with different periods of time. Using the chemical make-up of the layers of paint, focusing on these marker elements, allows ‘not before’ or ‘not after’ dates to be associated with specific layers within the paint samples. This information supplements observations of sequencing and preparation within the samples to determine if the first layer in a sample is indeed from the first interior finish campaign. For samples where there is no physical evidence of the original paint scheme, a research process is proposed as the best practice for conjectural recreation of an interior paint scheme. Using related structures, which may be similar in terms of their architect, time period, and/or location, which have their original paint layers, is suggested to be the best way to develop a first period paint scheme for a villa missing its specific physical evidence. Finally, in the absence of direct comparable properties with physical evidence, it is suggested that the best method to develop a first period paint scheme is by using primary source research to examine the color preferences and trends of the time, as well as an understanding of available pigments in the late 19th to early 20th century in the study location.

In this case study project thirty-nine samples, taken during May of 2022, are analyzed via cross-sectional analysis. Twelve of those samples and two samples taken in 2011 by past Clemson University Master of Science in Historic Preservation (MSHP) students, are further analyzed through SEM-EDS. When some of the samples indicated a lack of first period interior finishes, research into related buildings was conducted. A list of properties that could be analyzed to yield more specific, localized, period appropriate context is presented. Without the access and permissions to undertake these studies on the related buildings, observation of the CAF villa’s architectural ornamentation was done to aid in the identification of a style to be linked to the original preferences for interior finishes associated with that style. The combination of cross-sectional, SEM-EDS, and ornamentation analysis all lead to and the understanding of the original finishes as from 1891 to 1920.

Changed from “the late 19th century” since there was no official evidence proving to be from the late 19th century. The evidence more so proved for the original finishes to not be from before 1899 (ramp) and not past 1920 (titanium)

Previous Versions

Jun 24 2024 (withdrawn)
Jun 19 2024



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