Arcadia Restores Mural Discovered in Grey Towers Castle Restroom
A medieval-style heraldic coat of arms mural, possibly from the 19th century, that was discovered behind a drop ceiling in a women’s bathroom on the first floor of Grey Towers Castle is now restored.
The mural, believed to date back to between 1898 and 1929, depicts two lions and a lily flower centerpiece against a tan background. Surface Experts of Northeast Philadelphia’s Andrea Marino handled the restoration.
“I mixed all the colors from scratch to match what was already there and used tiny brushes to fill in the detail,” said Marino. “It looks like painted tile, but really it’s done in pencil. I had to sand everything down because there was exposed spackling, holes, and a lot of other general problems that came up over time. Overall, it took me a little bit more than two hours.”
Tom Macchi, associate vice president for Facilities Management at Arcadia University, said the mural had probably been hidden for more than 50 years. He added that it had been damaged because of what seemed like a previous fire alarm system being screwed into it and general neglect over the decades.
“When we removed the ceiling and put a light on it, we were astonished,” said Macchi.
This is not the first time workers have uncovered a historic piece of Grey Towers Castle behind decades-old renovations. In 2016, a fireplace was found on the Admissions side of the castle behind a wall. That fireplace has since been converted to gas and is used in the winter months. Additionally, antique lighting fixtures were found beneath a staircase. They have since been restored and reinstalled around the castle.
“We really want to keep everything as original as possible,” said Macchi. “We’ve had to modernize a few things out of necessity, like putting in an elevator, but overall, we try to keep the castle as original as possible.
“We always seem to find something new when we do work in here,” he added.