BCA was the historic materials consultant for Samara, the John and Catherine Christian House, located in West Lafayette, Indiana. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and completed in 1956, Samara is an example of Wright’s Usonian house design. It became a National Historic Landmark in 2015, the same year that Dr. Christian died, and the house became a full-time museum open to the public. BCA’s work provided information about the house’s original materials to inform the current restoration project.
The materials examined as part of this study include interior and exterior paint finishes, mortar and stucco. Wright provided specific information on and instruction for the building’s finish materials in the original drawings of Samara, including not only specific products but also Wright’s vision for the masonry overall. Primary documents reviewed by BCA while on site at Samara provided insight into building material purchases made during the construction of the house. BCA removed finish samples from exterior surfaces, including windows and stucco soffits, as well as interior surfaces, including drywall and woodwork, and found that many original finishes remain or were refinished in a similar color. Instrumental analysis identified the woodwork’s original coating type, allowing BCA to recommend an appropriate replication coating for visual and material compatibility. BCA also removed masonry samples from brick mortar and stucco, the findings of which were used to make recommendations for replication mixes.