Info on Stucco and Plastering-June, 2020-sixtieth issue
Tivoli Theater revisited.
I am so amazed by the aggregated stucco at the Tivoli Theater. How was this done ?
There are a lot of secrets here we may never find out. Many years ago, in 1981, when I came back to Washington, I did a lot of plaster patch work in a coop building near Dupont Circle. I met someone who lived there that explained that his father was a plasterer from Ireland.
His father was proud of the work he did at the Tivoli, which was finished in 1924. There were a lot of Irish plasterers in the Washington area, for some reason. Maybe these people brought their secrets from Ireland.
Fornuately, the Tivoli was one of the interesting buildings that survived. The Tivoli was revitalized with the whole Columbia Heights area. A new Metro station was opened at Columbia Heights, leading to a boom in construction in the area. The metro brings life, like the Nile River.
A close up shows the aggregated finish. Pebbles are screened and embedded in the stucco finish. Workmanship is exceptional.
Walls are straight and uniform.
One of the pictures I took in 2002. Tivoli had been adbandoned and boarded up.
Check out the molding. Apparently, the aggregate was mixed in the mortar, the finish applied and troweled, and then the finish was washed and rubbed to expose the rocks. The unknown secrets are.
1. What did they do to slow down the set of the mortar to allow time to do all this ?
2. Did they use a bonder or sealer on the basecoat such as portland cement paste ?
3. how long did the walls set up before the wall was scrubbed exposing the aggregate ?
4. Was the wall rubbed with a brick ?
Maybe we'll never know the mystic secrets.
Another fine example of aggregated finishes in the Franciscan Monastery in Northeast Washington, DC. The front garden walls and colonnade were completed about the same time period as the Tivoli, about 1925. I believe the stucco was done by the same people, the same Irish plasterers. More about the Franciscan monastery here:
A close up view of some of the work at the monastery.
A shot of the colonnade. The ceilings aren't aggregated, but textured stucco. You can tour the monastery if you want.