A landscape painting by German artist Paul Weber is now on display in the lobby of Warrenton Town Hall after the restoration of the artwork and its frame by Mumford Restoration of Raleigh.
The landscape is one of four paintings donated by Warrenton resident Katherine Pendleton Arrington to the former John Graham High School in 1926. She donated a fifth painting, a portrait of local educator John Graham by William Steene, in 1929.
Arrington was instrumental in the creation of the North Carolina Museum of Art.
The paintings were removed from John Graham High School in the early 1980s when John Graham and Norlina High School merged to form Warren County High School.
The landscape was one of four paintings that had been stored in the basement of the central school system office since that time.
The Warren County Arts Council initiated the restoration process, partnering with Preservation Warrenton to approach the Warren County Board of Education in 2020 to ask how the paintings could be removed from the central office basement, restored and placed in locations that would bring them back to public view.
That same year, an ad hoc committee made up of Linda Byrd and Victoria Lehman, representing the school board; Richard Hunter and Robert Davie representing Preservation Warrenton; and Charla Duncan and Lamont Dozier, representing the Warren County Arts Council, were trained to determine what should be done with the paintings.
The Board of Education then approved the loan of the paintings to the Town of Warrenton for display at Town Hall. Since the Plummer Hook and Ladder Museum is located in the Town Hall building, the structure was built in accordance with the museum’s standards for temperature, humidity control and safety, making it a great place to display works of art.
In September 2020, the school board authorized Mumford Restoration to take the first step in preserving the paintings by restoring the Weber landscape. The cost, which Davie said was just under $ 4,000, was covered by Preservation Warrenton.
Bernard Mumford and Jeff Percy from Mumford Restoration came to Warrenton in October 2020 to pick up the central office landscape painting. Mumford noted at the time that the restoration process would include restoring areas where the paint had chipped off, cleaning the canvas, removing the old varnish covering the paint, and replacing it with a new formulation of conservation quality varnishing. He added that the frame would be restored in a process that would involve filling in chipped areas, replacing old repairs, gilding the new material and cleaning up existing gilding on the frame.
Mumford predicted that the restored paint would only need a maintenance cleaning every 10 years and a re-varnishing every 20 to 30 years.
Now on permanent loan to the Town of Warrenton, the painting is on display with a Jacob Holt Greek Revival mantle in the Town Hall Lobby at 113 S. Bragg St., Warrenton. The Warren County Arts Council will provide signage for the landscape painting and the fireplace.