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WEST CHESTER — The next time students or residents take a walk by Philips Memorial Hall on the campus of West Chester University, they may want to take a close look at the arches.
There is something different about them.
That’s because the shields in each of the arches had a nice makeover, courtesy of some art students over the last three days.
“About a year ago, the building was getting pressure washed to clean up and through that, Tom Clark, who is in our facilities division, saw that there was a hint of color left on the sandstone itself,” said John Baker, chairman of the Art Department at West Chester University. “He had approached me to see if we were interested in doing a little research and bringing the shields back to their original colors.”
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It was a new revelation for members of the faculty and students who spent countless times walking by and never knew what the shields originally looked like.
“For the years I have been here, I’ve always looked up, but it just looked like plain cement to me,” Baker said.
Baker set to work with the help of four students — three art majors and Clark’s daughter — in different aspects of the project.
The four students were Eli Swett, Michelle McEvoy, Hannah Clark and A.J. Rossana.
The first step, of course, was to research the shields to find out what they should look like.
“We went online and started looking at the different designs and trying to orient the designs to what it basically was,” Baker said.
What they found, with the help of one specific shield, was that it represented British royalty.
“The one that we knew specific, which Tom and myself both came across, was the one shield that is Richard III from England,” Baker said. “That kind of confirmed the color scheme for the rest of the shields.”
That, and some help from what was barely left from the original paint.
“Through (Royalty shields) and knowing the hints of colors that were left on the sandstone, we were able to match them, I think fairly accurately, to what they would have been original back in 1925,” Baker said.
With all that knowledge, the students set to work painting the shields over a three-day span, finishing Monday with a sealer.
To help ensure the paint lasts much longer this time around, they used special paint used in murals.
“It should protect it for many, many years to come because we used mural art paint, which is designed for exterior use,” Baker said. “Then we used a sealer which is traditionally used on murals.”
It may be just a minor pain job on a very large building, but that little bit, Baker believes, really made a difference to the most iconic building on campus.
“It really enhanced the building,” Baker said. “Whenever anybody comes by Philips, they’ll look up and see the work our students have done. It’s really cool. I think it changed the whole feel of the building.”