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Painting and Plaster

Architect of the Capitol's (AOC) teams of plasterers ensure the unique historic fabric of the buildings on Capitol Hill is preserved while the modern needs of Congress are served.

In use since the ancient Romans, even today on Capitol Hill, plaster is integral to the many buildings under the care of the AOC. This use of plaster ranges from the most basic use such as drywall to more intricate uses such as the ornate U.S. House of Representatives Cannon House Office Building Caucus Room.

The Plaster Leader for the House Office Buildings day shift, Shirlon “Elvis” Maynard and his team are responsible for nearly every wall and ceiling in the House Office Buildings. This includes projects such as finishing drywall installed in renovated spaces, touch-ups during office moves, and detailed ornamental plastering that is a unique and rare art. According to Maynard, ornamental plastering is such a rare art that when a 1992 fire destroyed historic spaces within England’s Windsor Castle, ornamental plasters had to be brought from around the world as part of the restoration efforts a few years later.

"Anyone can just throw mud on a wall," said, Maynard. "It is an art to do it. It is hard work and you don’t learn it overnight. We need to create an apprenticeship program to help cultivate a next generation of plasterers to ensure we have the manpower to maintain this historic building."

The trades that Dawson and Maynard represent would have been in high demand 104 years ago, when construction began on the building. On April 14, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt came to Capitol Hill to lay the cornerstone for a new congressional office building, the first of its kind for the House of Representatives.

"I would have loved to have been there when they built the building," says Maynard. "You can imagine what they would have had to go through without the modern things we have today."

Thanks to AOC's teams of plasterers the unique historic fabric of the buildings on Capitol Hill is preserved while the modern needs of Congress are served.

Watch video below for a behind the scenes look at how AOC's painters care for the ornate walls of the Library of Congress: