The master of plaster restores Victorian walls at the Roff Home

Peeling paint, cracking and peeling plaster, and the general malaise of the Roff Home's walls prior to replastering.

Peeling paint, cracking and peeling plaster, and the general malaise of the Roff Home's walls prior to replastering.

Over the summer and fall, we took on the task of plaster restoration at the Roff Home. Water damage over the years had destroyed far too much plaster for us to just take on the task of patching or repairing plaster walls. Whatever we chose to do, it would have to be a complete reconstruction of the plaster coatings on the walls.

Above and below are a couple of pics that show what the walls used to look like, with their cracked and peeling paint, cracked and washed away plaster, exposed brick, and overall aesthetic malaise.

What the walls of the front parlor looked like prior to plaster restoration and plaster repair.

What the walls of the front parlor looked like prior to plaster restoration and plaster repair.

We chose to replace the plastering rather than do drywall, because historic preservation guidelines for Victorian homes claim that it is more historically accurate to keep plaster, and I like the look of plaster more than drywall. So for this Victorian home, I decided to go with plaster.

I have to say that I have never gotten used to the hollow sound of drywall, of knocking on a wall and hearing that echo behind it. To me, it’s akin to the false walls of a set for a play, where the walls shake when a door is slammed too hard.

The man who has been doing the plastering work comes from a family that has done plastering in this town for nearly 150 years. And he is the last plasterer left in his family. He wasn’t convinced he should do the job, but I told him that it was probably his relatives who plastered this house some 140 years ago, and it would be a great continuation of his family history if he were to help renew the home for the next 100 years of its life. He agreed.

Here’s a pic of the walls of the front parlor after plastering was complete. What a difference a little plaster can make!

Walls of the front parlor of the Roff home after replastering.

Walls of the front parlor of the Roff home after replastering.

5 comments to The master of plaster restores Victorian walls at the Roff Home

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  • I cant get over how amazing your restoration of the Roff Home is. Simply outstanding!

  • Thank you, Jason! I appreciate it! The house is coming along, slowly but surely. — John

  • Debbie

    What are the photos hanging on the walls? They look like old photographs that have been enlarged. And the floor looks gorgeous! Someday I will take the tour.

  • The first one is a picture of Watseka from 1876. It shows the downtown area and in the distance you can see the Roff Home. It is the earliest picture of the home that I know of. The second picture is of the house in 1895. It is the earliest, clearest, most detailed picture of the home that we’ve found and it is guiding the renovation efforts of the exterior (it’s also the picture you see as the banner for this blog). Both photos were obtained through the Iroquois County Historical Society (Old Courthouse Museum), which has extensive records on the history of Watseka and the surrounding area. I scanned in the images and had them enlarged to hang in the home for visitors to see. I have 18 photos like this that are helping to document the history of the home and its residents.

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