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Building Conservation Associates

Philadelphia Academy of Music

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Year Built: 1857
Original Architect: Napoleon LeBrun & Gustavus Runge

The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was constructed from 1855 to 1857. The building is the oldest opera house still in use in America. The Academy’s interior is replete with ornamental painting and faux finishes including graining and marbling. The style of the exterior has been described as Italian Byzantine or Rundbogenstil, “roundarch style,” and features brick walls with brownstone ornamentation, including a second-story brownstone balcony supported by decorative brackets.

BCA performed an up-close, hands-on assessment of all of the building’s Portland brownstone features. The assessment was a technical challenge because the stone was covered by decades’ worth of paint and coatings that obscured the stone’s true condition. BCA determined that the brownstone behind the coatings was in such poor condition that significant quantities of repairs and replacement were necessary to restore the building to its original appearance. The brownstone balconies are the first to be restored - BCA designed repairs for their restoration, and is now providing construction phase services for the project. BCA is involved in other aspects of the Academy’s restoration, including repairs and cleaning of the brick. BCA also performed a paint analysis of the Academy’s wood windows and sheet metal cornice so that the original colors could be returned to the building.