HISTORIC ST. AUGUSTINE PRESERVATION BOARD
M E M 0 R A N D U M
DATE: July 10, 1989
TO: Earle Newton
FROM: Susan Parker
RE: Controversial exterior color of Mesa-Sanchez House
As per your request, here is "De Mesa House: Reports on Interior
and Exterior Finishes." The analysis of the exterior is at the
end of the written report and just before the little pockets
with, I guess, samples. I have been through our sizable file on
the building and its restoration and interpretation in the
library, where is found the paint chips with their Munsell
numbers on the reverse side and have them in my office if you
wish to look at them.
I also read through the board's minutes for 1978, 1979 and 1980
to ascertain decisions on the paint color. In both the file and
the board minutes, it is apparent that there was much discussion
and deliberation about the entire building. From the beginning
it appears that the board members felt that the colors indicated
by the architectural analysis would be subject to question.
Whether or not to use ashlar scoring was also discussed.
The minutes of the November 29, 1979, meeting state that Mr.
[Robert3 Steinbach "said the evidence is incontrovertible that
the building was 'yellowish-pink' with ashlar scoring. The board
passed a motion to "authorize the restoration of the original
color and ashlar scoring that characterized the building during
the time to which we are restoring." Almost a year later the
color was still being discussed. At the September 10, 1980, Dr.
Gannon displayed a color chip based on research conducted by an
independent investigator and the board again voted to paint the
house based on research.
I might say at this time that "DeMesa House pink" is not one of
my all-time favorite colors, but my aesthetic tastes, along with
many other factors, are influenced by the fact that I am an
individual of the late twentieth century, not the first third of
the nineteenth century. Of course, we also cannot assume that
everyone in the past had good taste.
The problem here is that, many members of the public have pet
ideas about what that past was like and what it should look like.
Imagine the outcry if we were to whitewash Government House and
paint the wood trim the ocher color chosen by Engineer Mariano de
la Roqcue in the 1780s. And those complaints would be small next
to what would be evoked if the Castillo de San Marcos were
painted its Spanish-era colors of white with red trim.