The library often gets this question:
Why is the paint still peeling on the library columns?
Here is our best understanding of why the paint keeps peeling off the columns. The columns are original to the structure and have been up since 1849 (164 years.) The columns were originally primed with a very good lead based coat of paint. Covering this layer of paint are at least 10 coats of paint applied in the last 167 years. These coats of paint expand and contract at different rates based on their ingredients. As the layers expand and contract, it causes peeling of the layer or layers on top of it.
The best remedy is to scrape the columns down to the wood to remove all layers of paint. Then apply a new coat of paint to the bare wood.
Since the Washington Street Library is significant in the role of the educational and cultural progress of our County’s history it is listed on the Maryland Historic Register.
The total cost of scraping the columns to the bare wood and re-painting is in the neighborhood of $150,000. The Library System (with the County’s help) has applied for state funding, but was recently informed that other projects took priority. We will continue to search for funds to remedy these wonderful columns.
The column restoration is the key focus of the new Friends of the Washington Street Library group, the group can be contacted via phone at 301-777-1200 or via their Facebook pagewww.facebook.com/friendsofthewashingtonstreetlibrary