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Orpheum Auditorium Ceiling Restoration, Champaign

Work on the auditorium began at the top — the ceiling was finished first. In order to reach the 32-foot high ceiling, a massive scaffolding system was erected with a “dance floor” platform on the top. An electric lift carried workers and supplies up to the the platform.

Before work began, the ceiling was a mess of failed plaster, peeling paint, and damaged mouldings and framing. Altogether, six different types of ceiling mouldings — over forty individual mouldings — had to be restored or refabricated and married to the remaining ones with fill-in plaster. To see pictures of the process visit our our Orpheum Moulding Restoration and Refabrication page.

Much of the framing and many of the original mouldings also needed to be re-anchored before the restored mouldings were installed. All the screw holes had to be pre-drilled to avoid cracking the plaster.

Where big runs of curved mouldings were missing, careful measurements had to be taken to place them correctly in their curved formation and to find framing to attach them to. Sanding the back of the mouldings was often necessary to make sure they were tight to the ceiling. The bigger mouldings were heavy enough to need several people for installation.

The ceiling itself was drywalled. The curved portion of the ceiling was skim-coated with drywall mud. The whole thing was painted, touched-up, and painted again. Once the ceiling was finished, the scaffolding came down, but work continued in the rest of the auditorium.

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