Introduction The following report represents the results of field sampling and laboratory analysis of exterior paint finishes at Springside House, in Pittsfield MA. The purpose of this report is to identify the earliest layer of paint that corresponds to the current building footprint and configuration, and to determine the closest historically appropriate color match for future painting of the building. The field sampling and report compilation were completed in partial fulfillment of agreements between the City of Pittsfield and Hancock Shaker Village as a component of the University of Massachusetts Historic Preservation Program. The work was completed by Lisa Sauer, MS 2012.

Background: Building History Springside House was built or updated as a private residence between 1856 and 1860 by Abraham Burbank. Born in West Springfield, MA, the young Burbank relocated to Pittsfield and began his career as a journeyman carpenter in 1832. In 1834 he married Miss Julia Brown of Pittsfield. Mr. Burbank was an entrepreneur and experienced 1

success not only as a carpenter, but a hotelier, farmer, merchant and “landlord of several business blocks and scores of tenements”: (History of Pittsfield, vol. 3, pp.5960). Sometime between 1840 and 1850 Burbank purchased a large farm at the north side of Pittsfield from the Hon. Thomas B. Strong, and established his gentleman’s farm of about 80 acres on the property. In 1856, Burbank sold the original farmhouse (which by 1872 was known as Springside House) and 30 acres of land to the Rev. Charles E. Abbott, to serve as a private boarding school for boys. The school operated from 18561866. Exactly where on the site the farmhouse/school building was located is not known, though it is presumed to have been on the southern end, in the vicinity of present day Abbott Street and Springside Avenue. According to the 1860 census, on or around this time, Burbank and his family, with six of his 8 children still at home along with 2 farm laborers and 2 domestics, relocated to a new house farther north on the site, which he called Elmhurst (today called Springside House). In the 1860 census, Burbank listed himself as Master Builder rather than Carpenter as appeared on the 1850 census. His career proved successful and by 1868 Burbank owned and operated the Burbank Hotel on North St. in Pittsfield proper and he had an additional home on Summer Street while maintaining his country residence at Elmhurst. In 1872, Burbank sold the Elmhurst house and 50 acres of farmland for $16,500 to John Davol, a wealthy brass manufacturer from Brooklyn, N.Y. Burbank subsequently relocated to another house on the west side of North St. Tragedy struck in 1887 and Burbank succumbed to “cerebral apoplexy” known today as stroke. Dedicated to improving and expanding opportunity in Pittsfield, he left the bulk of his estate to the city, to support public education, a free hospital and public parks. Unfortunately, town leaders balked at the anticipated level of civic responsibility and negotiated smaller gifts to several community institutions instead (History of Pittsfield, Vol 3, pp 39-40). Davol owned Elmhurst from 1872 until his death in 1878 at the age of 68. While he added a barn to the property, and as noted in the 1873 Pittsfield Sun, “expended the sum of $50,000 in the purchase and adornment of the most charming overlook over the Pittsfield Valley...” it is difficult to determine exactly what these renovations comprised. The earliest pictorial images of Elmhurst appear in the 1876 Atlas, and depict a cruciform plan. The next extant images are the 1899 “birds eye” view of Pittsfield and the 1900 Atlas, both of which show the house as it is configured today, including the wrap- around porch.


Upon Davol’s death, Elmhurst house was inherited by his two surviving sons, Frank (b.1851) and William H. (b.ca. 1840). Both sons and their families summered at the house until 1887, after which William and his wife (Jennie) and their 5 children became primary occupants. Additional improvements to the property by William Davol include the circular drive, granite posts at the entrance with the name Elmhurst carved into one of them, and the barn. When William died in 1904 the house and contents were offered at public auction in June of that year. Clarence Stevens, a mining engineer and family friend, attended the auction with the intent of boosting the bidding, but instead - and unintentionally- found himself the new owner for the purchase price of $12,500 (Deeds, Bk 323, p. 484). At that time the house was configured as it is today and the property consisted of 53 acres. Stevens and his wife Hannah, occupied the home as a summer residence from the time of his unsuspecting auction purchase until both their deaths in 1932 or 1933. During this time Steven’s had purchased an additional 21.75 acres of adjoining land, increasing the property to nearly 75 acres. Upon Hannah’s death, their son the Rev. John Underwood Stevens, (b.1901) a Presbyterian minister in New York City, inherited the parcel and home. In 1910, Kelton B. Miller, a former Pittsfield mayor and the editor of the Berkshire Evening Eagle, and his wife Eva, donated 10 acres of land in the vicinity of Elmhurst for use as a public park, which then became Abbott Park. By 1919, with the donation of additional land and the sale of some existing lots, the park had increased in size to 15.5 acres and was renamed Springside Park. In 1938, Kelton Millers sons Donald B. and Lawrence K. purchased the 75 acre Stevens estate and donated the house and land for the enlargement of Springside Park, in honor and memory of their father. Subsequently, the Park Commission authorized caretaker Harry J. Watson to renovate what was now known as Springside House for use by clubs and community organizations and in 1941 it was opened for public use. Four of the first floor rooms were renovated for meetings, parties and other adult activities on a seasonal basis. Between 1941 and 1955 gifts of additional acreage added to the size of the Park. As the park grew, so did the administrative needs. In 1954, Springside House was “remodeled” “in the modern style” and became the office and headquarters of the Pittsfield Dept. of Parks and Recreation. In 2007, the Department of Community Services/Parks and Recreation was officially removed from the city code. In July of that year James McGrath, the Director of Community Services, was relocated to City Hall and given his current title of Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager. Park maintenance administration, now Buildings and Grounds Maintenance, was moved to the Building Maintenance


Department. Park recreation was moved to the Community Development Department. Mr. McGrath was subsequently moved to community development, where he currently oversees long-range planning functions and capital construction in the parks. The principal Springside building has been generally unused since July, 2007. The building is used for storage. The eastern half of the building has an apartment (2 floors) that houses AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers. Currently there are 2 people living there. Building Description (from the NRHP nomination prepared by Ms. Martha Lyon in 2008) “Springside House is designed primarily in the Italianate style and is unusually complex in form and massing. It is a wood framed assemblage of four principal segments. The south elevation, which is the principal facade, appears to be the main block of the house. This block consists of a 1-bay wide by 2-bay deep 1 ½ story, cross gabled section; a 2bay wide, 2 ½ story mansard roofed section, and a 1- bay wide by 3- bay deep 3 -story Italianate Villa style tower with a nearly flat roof. Deeply set back from the main block is a 2 ½ story gambrel roofed ell. It is 2- bays wide along the facade, 3- bays deep along the east elevation and 6- bays wide across the rear (north) elevation where it covers both the tower and part of the mansard section. The two westernmost bays of the ell on the rear elevation rise to a large front gabled wall dormer. A 1-bay, one story gable roofed mudroom extends from the east elevation of the gambrel roofed section. The entire complex rests on a brick foundation, is clad with clapboards and has asphalt shingles covering the roof. The body of the house is generally trimmed with pilasters and features deep cornices with either full or partial returns decorated by scrolled brackets. A single chimney extends above the roofline near the center of the building. A one story wooden verandah extends along the mansard and cross gabled sections and wraps around the west and north side. The south elevation overlooks the circular driveway entry. The main entrance is centered in the mansard section. A wide paneled wooden door is framed by a Greek Revival transom, partial sidelights, pilasters and a shallow pediment flanked by windows with 6/6 double hung sash. A secondary entry on the south elevation is located in the center of the cross gabled section and leads directly to the parlor. Fenestration pattern on this elevation is generally regular with paired single windows aligned on the two main floors and framed with flat wood surrounds with an applied arch above the lintel. Windows are 6/6 double hung on the main two levels. The third story of the tower features 3 arch topped windows. A single 6/6 dormer window is set into the mansard roof, and a pair of 4/4 windows with canted outside corners light the southwest gable end. The west elevation is 2- bays wide and has no direct entrance. The fenestration pattern is strictly regular with two 6/6 windows on each main floor framed with flat wood surrounds, clapboarded blind panels suggestive of shutters, and a decorative wood arch


above the lintel. A pair of 4/4 windows with canted outside corners is centered in the gable at the attic level. Along the north elevation, the cross gabled section is only one bay wide. It features a center entrance on the porch and a single 6/6 window above. The doorway and window above are each enclosed by a flat wood surround with clapboarded blind panels suggestive of shutters. Two 4/4 wood windows with canted outside corners light the attic at the gable end, which is enclosed by a bracketed cornice with deep eaves and deep returns. The mansard section is recessed and one bay wide on the north elevation. The tower section is visible above the attic of the gambrel-roofed dormer. A secondary entry to the house (leading to the north end of the center hall) is located at the east end of the porch where the main block transitions to the rear section of the ell. A one-story service entrance is enclosed under a gabled roofline at the northeast corner. The east elevation is composed principally of the gambrel roofed section and tower section. The setback of the gambrel section at the southwest corner reveals a pair of 6/6 windows on the east wall of the tower at the first and second stories and two arch topped windows.


Paint Analysis Methodology After meeting with James McGrath, Director of Community Services, and subsequently receiving permission to sample areas of the building exterior paint finishes for analysis, samples were taken on the building during two site visits: in June and July of 2012. On July 22nd and 24th respectively, paint was analyzed and tested at the conservation laboratory Hancock Shaker Village. Twelve samples were taken from discrete areas on the building exterior envelope, one or more from each elevation and each floor of the corresponding elevation, and labeled (see figure 1 and 2).

Fig. 1 Sample areas on N. & S. elevation


Fig. 2: Sample areas on E. & W. elevation

Samples were then removed to HSV lab for further testing. One or more portions of each sample was mounted in wax in a petri dish and examined at 10x and 40x magnification to determine number and color of paint layers that had been applied to the building. Representative samples were then photographed with the newest layer at the bottom of the photo, and are included as evidence in this report (Figs. 3 & 4).

Fig. 3: Sample 1A

Fig. 4: Sample 2A


Once the layers had been counted and basic colors analyzed, results were then entered into a matrix to help identify a uniform “target” color stratum on the building as it is currently configured – this provided a terminus post quem for all additional finishes on the building as presently configured. After determining the target stratum, color analysis was performed on the samples that were best representations at this layer. Color matching was made using first the Munsell Color Chart, then, after determination was made of the closest match, the Munsell chip was then compared to both Benjamin Moore Co. and Sherwin Williams Co. color samples. Findings: Each sample removed contained no fewer than 6 layers of discernible paint. In some samples there appeared to be more layers, but these samples were so highly deteriorated that for the sake of this report, those findings have been eliminated as they were not representative of the “target” stratum.


The first historical photograph of Springside is black and white, but the building clearly has a white and white or white and cream finishes motif (Photo 1 below). Also, shutters can be seen on the building in this image. The green and white scheme currently on the building represents the newest layer and was applied by the GE Elfin Club in 1991, according to Parks records.

Photo 1: Historic Image of Springside Courtesy of Pittsfield Dept. of Community Services

Additional newspaper clippings from 1944 and 1955 indicate that the exterior of the house was painted white at those dates in time also. No where in any of the samples tested, did green paint appear in earlier layers (Photos 2 and 3, next page).


Photo 2: Springside in 1944 Photo 3: Springside in 1955 Archival Berkshire Eagle photos courtesy of Berkshire Athenaeum historical collection

While most of the layers showed uniform white paint on all building elements, two early “target” layers have proven a different motif. Layer 4 indicates a cream treatment to windows, door surrounds and corner pilasters, while Layer 5 indicates black on the main facade architrave and window surrounds, with white clapboards. The exact date of these two painting efforts is not known, but they represent the earliest two layers of paint. This motif would be in keeping with the lighter color palate and paint trends for this style of architecture and period (1856) as synthetic colors were only developed in that same year, thus forcing the use of natural pigments and dyes. Colonial, Federal and Greek revival color schemes tended to favor lighter delicate colors, such as off-white or cream for trim and window sashes. Exterior shutters (see photo 1) were commonly painted a dark green, such as “verdigris” or “Paris green” which we currently refer to as “shutter green”.


Recommendations: The most consistently discernable of the two “target” paint strata identified in this analysis is target layer 4. This cream and white paint scheme is in keeping with historical paint of the 1850-1860’s Italianate style, based on the literature for paint colors and motifs for this style and period. The addition of shutters in the color aforementioned would be appropriate for this style and period as well. Target layer 6 represents a black and white motif. No specific colors were chosen as the layer was highly deteriorated. It appears that the building was predominantly white with black being found on the door, architrave, corner pilaster and window sash of the main facade. Such a treatment is anomalous to the Italianate style. The other elevations, with perhaps the exception of the first floor entry door on the western facade (which was not sampled), appear to be uniformly white. Again the addition of green shutters would be appropriate if the choice was made to restore to this period.

Evidence of “cream” paint on pilaster, fascia and window frame: eastern elevation


Munsell Paint/Benjamin Moore/Sherwin Paint Colors (all colors are best, not perfect, matches)


In conclusion, this analysis suggests that the current white and green finishes treatment to exterior architectural features of Springside house, as shown in the cover photo, reflected the color sensibilities of the organization that painted it in the 1990’s and was not based upon historical precedent. The recommendations of the use of a lighter palate, i.e. white and cream, with the addition of green shutters would be a more appropriate treatment if the decision is made to employ a color palate that references a previous historical finishes scheme. Respectfully submitted: Lisa A. Sauer, M.S.



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