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Lunt Fontanne Building

Lunt Fontanne Building RestorationWhen the Lunt-Fontanne Theater, long a shining light of New York City's legendary Broadway theater district, was recently renovated, there was a rich history to preserve. A National Historic Landmark building, the Lunt-Fontanne is the only remaining theater built by famed architects Carrere & Hastings. Built in 1909-1910, and originally named the Globe, the building was converted to a movie house after the Depression. In 1958 the interior was renovated and it was officially renamed the Lunt-Fontanne Theater, in honor of legendary husband and wife acting team Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.


With an expertise in restoring older buildings, 3J's Building Maintenance, Inc., headquartered in Massapequa, NY and with offices in Manhattan, was the perfect choice to handle the intricate exterior restoration of this eight-story, Beaux-Arts structure. Artie Forman, president of 3J's, explains the challenges. "There was a logistical hurdle because while the restoration was going on there were eight live shows per week and much of the work area was at street level," he notes.


The cement, limestone and brick exterior was layered with at least 70 coats of paint, including oil-based and latex. Though records are incomplete, it is believed that the building's exterior had not been completely stripped since 1909.


"Sandblasting was never a consideration, as it would damage the stone and decorative work. The engineers wanted a chemical paint remover, and since the theater was in use, I wanted a product that was globesafe to use, fume-free, and could handle this many layers of paint without damaging the substrates," explains Forman.


Of the two chemical removal products patch-tested, Peel Away® 1, from Dumond Chemicals, Inc., was the clear winner. "The other product dripped, was very messy to work with, didn't work as quickly, and just couldn't handle the stubborn layers of paint on a job like this," says Forman.


Peel Away® 1 is a poultice system that works by controlling evaporation while enabling quick, effective and easy removal of multiple layers of paint. Here, it was applied by hand, trowel and brush, with the laminated Peel Away® paper layered over it. Allowed to dwell for 72 hours, the paper was then peeled away, and with it, the bulk of the still-damp paint.


Staggered crews applied Peel Away® 1 in the morning and removed it at night, followed by a power wash of clean water. The surface was prepped and primed with the Sherwin Williams Loxon product before application of a Lastic coating. Approximately 3,000 square feet of paint were removed and the building re-coated in just five weeks.


"This was a demanding historic restoration, but with a building this special, you pull out all the stops," reports Forman, who had never used Peel Away® 1 prior to this project. "Never having used it, I was somewhat skeptical until we ran the patch tests, but Peel Away® outperformed my expectations on this project," Forman comments.


The engineering staff was V.S.A. Associates, New York, NY.


Peel Away® 1 is one of a full line of masonry restoration and paint-removal products manufactured by Dumond Chemicals, Inc. Dumond Chemicals, Inc. manufactures a full line of restoration and paint-removal products for commercial and industrial projects. Dumond products are available through a network of nationwide distributors and paint stores.

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