The small town of Abingdon has been welcoming visitors for nearly 250 years, ever since it was a stop for weary travelers heading west on the Great Wilderness Road. Thousands of tourists are attracted to Abingdon each year to visit Barter Theatre, the Virginia Creeper Trail, and the beautiful historic downtown shopping district. Now, the town’s official Visitor Center has gotten a new paint job that restores its historic charm.
The Abingdon Visitor Center is located at 335 Cummings Street, in a former private residence built in 1906. The house was in need of exterior painting, and town officials decided to try to determine the home’s original Victorian colors, in order restore the building to its original appearance. Using tiny core samples, a historic conservator was able to analyze the layers of paint and find the original 1906 colors.
The Hassinger House, also known as The Grove, is a late Victorian clapboarded and decoratively shingled house built in 1906 by William Hassinger, who owned Hassinger Lumber of Konnarock, VA.
The project used cross-section microscopy analysis techniques to determine the original exterior paint palette. The study showed that the house had gone through at least 17 to 18 paint jobs throughout the years, with up to 25 generations of paint in some areas. The earliest paints were then color matched for replication, and the results were dramatically different from the building’s 21st-Century appearance.
Victorian homes were often affectionately called “Painted Ladies,” for their vivid, multi-colored appearances. The report found that the Hassinger House originally had a much more intense color scheme, “painted with an earth tone palette of deep red-brown, olive green and cream-color. No other colors were found during this research, but it is possible there could even have been a fourth color (based on suggested commercial palettes of the period.”
Newly painted in green, red-brown and cream, the Abingdon Visitor Center will now give visitors a preview of the many historic sites the town has to offer.