You may have noticed someone working meticulously in the hallways of Mohonk Mountain House, listening and whispering to the walls as she restored artworks throughout the property.
Who is Debra Perry-Scott? “I am a local gal, with roots of more than 8 generations in Ulster & Greene counties. I have been active as a traditional Decorative Painter and artisan for over 25 years. Mainly self-taught, and studying at the renowned Finishing School in Floral Park, I developed my craft with lots of research, practice, and hard work. I have been blessed to have the chance to weave a bit of my heart and soul into the artwork here, and I’m so grateful for the honor of being part of Mohonk’s story.”
The restoration project began in March 2017 with the “Goddess of Mohonk” mirror, which is one of Debra’s favorites and also one of the most challenging. “The Goddess of Mohonk” is actually a nickname given by staff to the cherub-cheeked face, as she appears to gently watch over you as you go by.
Most artworks at Mohonk Mountain House were selected by the founders Albert, Eliza, Daniel, and Effie during 1880-1910 when they were furnishing the Mountain House. Most frames are originals and were handmade on-site, and often paint choices were made based on what resources were available at the time.
Debra completed a total of about 800 artworks over the course of 3 weeks. Typically, it takes 2-3 days to complete the restoration process for each individual artwork, as repairing and replacing pieces is done methodically in layers.
“The Goddess of Mohonk” mirror after restoration.
Restoring Mohonk’s artworks has been an archaeological process, discovering each piece’s history and what was done before – for example, what was a quick fix and what was originally part of the artwork.
“When I see a funny repair, I leave the little mistakes and try to leave it as beautiful as I can. Honoring the story that’s there, the wear and tear that it has, is important. I want it to tell its story for another hundred years. I’ve always been incredibly sentimental. The honor and privilege of working here -the history- it’s an opportunity that’s so humbling.”
The next restoration project on the horizon is the Smiley Family Parlor for approximately two weeks in March. Next time you visit Mohonk Mountain House, be sure to stop and take a closer look at our newly restored artworks and talk with Debra, our precious restorer!
Click here to learn more about the history of Mohonk Mountain House!