Colors of the Western Mining Frontier: Painted Finishes in Virginia City, Montana
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Virginia City once exemplified the cutting edge of culture and taste in the Rocky Mountain mining frontier. Weathering economic downturns, mining booms and busts, and the loss of the territorial capital to Helena, Virginia City survives today as a heritage tourism site with a substantial building stock from its period of significance, 1863-1875. However, the poor physical condition and interpretation of the town offers tourists an inauthentic experience. Without paint analysis, the Montana Heritage Commission, state-appointed caretakers of Virginia City cannot engage in rehabilitation. As of 2017, no published architectural finishes research exists that provides comparative case studies for the Anglo-American settlement of the American West between 1840-1880, for American industrial landscapes, or for vernacular architecture in Montana. This thesis offers a case study of five buildings to add to the body of scholarly architectural finishes research, provide rehabilitation recommendations, and provide a published, baseline study for future research.