Nicholson House

True Colors

Long covered with white aluminum siding, the exterior of the historic Nicholson House on the University of Vermont campus was recently restored to its historic colors with research assistance by UVM historic preservation students and faculty.

At the request of the UVM Physical Plant, students in Professor Tom Visser’s Architectural Conservation I course sampled accessible exterior surfaces as a class project. By examining numerous cross-sections of paint samples under digital and UV microscopes in the UVM Historic Preservation Lab, they determined that the base coat of paint on the clapboards was originally a yellowish ivory, trim and porch elements were white, and window sashes were black. Physical and photographic evidence suggested that these colors were applied after the original circa 1809 Federal-style house had been greatly expanded in the 1890s with new porches, balconies, bay windows, and a large rear addition.

With approval of the color scheme by the UVM administration, contractors working with UVM Physical Plant and Smith Alvarez Sienkiewycz Architects removed the old aluminum siding, replaced damaged clapboards, installed a new ADA access ramp, and repainted Nicholson House with its historic colors during the summer of 2016.