WOODSTOCK, Va. (AP) - Often the bane of building owners, graffiti on an historic courthouse in Woodstock is getting some loving attention.
A paint conservator believes the graffiti dates to the Civil War. The graffiti has emerged as the courthouse — first built in 1795 and then added to in both 1871 and 1886 — undergoes a $1.5 million renovation that is expected to be completed this fall.
"Soldiers passing through did stay in the courthouse, although there's still research that could be done to try to determine exactly who was there and when," Barbara Adamson, president of the Shenandoah County Historical Society, told the Daily News Record (http://bit.ly/15uArdj). "It's fun to speculate."
The historical society hired architectural historian Chris Mills to examine the Main Street landmark after an inspection found some writing where a few inches of paint had peeled off the wall.
In the portions of the courthouse constructed in 1795, Mills removed several sections of paint, uncovering words scrawled on several of the walls.
"He uncovered 12 layers of paint," Adamson said. "Some of the walls had been written on, then whitewashed and written on again."
While much of the writing is illegible, one section of wall has a drawing depicting an animal with a label beneath that reads "a leopard."
Adamson said historical society members want to hire a conservator to carry out the painstaking process of uncovering all the writing. One room alone would cost up to $12,000, with the entire project estimated at about $50,000.
"Then we'd still have to make decisions about how to exhibit it," she said.
Adamson said she is in the process of looking for grants and that a few fundraising efforts may be in the works to pay for the conservation work.
"Once the renovations are complete ... we'll really be able to move forward with all these exciting ideas," she said.
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