As Historic City News starts the countdown for the long awaited re-opening of the Bridge of Lions, the St. Augustine local news desk will publish a look back on the work that has been accomplished and a peek ahead to the completion of the Bridge of Lions rehabilitation project.
The most visible part of the project during the past several months has been the extensive work on the foundations for the piers.
Behind the scenes, however, project team members have been cautiously studying each layer covering pieces of railings and steel girders to find the original color of the Bridge of Lions.
Welsh Color & Conservation, Inc., a company specializing in analysis of historic paints and wallpapers, used their meticulous sleuthing skills to uncover the 1927 paint color.
After laboratory analysis of collected samples from the Bridge’s girders and railings, The Welsh Color team preservationists discovered a subdued shade of spring green as the first layer of finish paint over the initial layers of primer coating on the original bridge.
Due to evidence of sandblasting prior to other coats of paint added to the bridge during the decades following its 1927 opening, laboratory technicians used a special test called a stereomicroscopial analysis on samples removed from the original bits of railing and the steel girders.
The test allowed the researchers to determine the complete layer structure of the bridge throughout the years and determine that the green shade was, in fact, the original color of the Bridge of Lions.
Researchers at the St. Augustine Historical Society Library also helped obtain information about the original Bridge of Lions through thorough investigation of their records and photographs.
Kenneth Smith, of Kenneth Smith Architects, contacted a few people who had been alive during the dedication of the original Bridge of Lions or who had relatives that were alive during that time.
These interviews provided additional background information on the original color of the Bridge. At least two ladies who were interviewed remembered green colored railings on the original bridge. These personal memories lend a welcome bit of local wisdom to the scientific laboratory discovery.