James R. Tanner Amphitheater reopens after historic restoration


tanner amphitheater reopens

In 2015, ANC embarked on the restoration of the Tanner Amphitheater in partnership with the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center. After three years of forensic analysis of the materials and finishes, a thorough condition assessment, and design development, staff and guests finally saw physical work begin last summer. This preservation effort assures the amphitheater, built in 1873, re­mains as originally designed and built for the next 150 years.

Completed in Spring 2019, colors dominate the visual appearance of the restored amphitheater. Metallic bronze capitals and bases will set-off the light tan columns. A yellow rostrum base and ambulatory piers are the most noticeable change from the white color which has decorated the structure for the past 100 years. In a few years, the wisteria will grow back to once again grace the structure in vines and purple blossoms.

While differences in color is the most visible change, guests and staff may miss the substantive work that was done to improve the weather-resistant properties of the amphitheater. Some examples are the stainless steel flashing installed to cap each pier and column. This will reduce wood deterioration and prevent water from infiltrating brick capitals. Also, to reduce maintenance and extend the life of the new colors, we used mineral coatings rather than latex or oil-based paints.

In addition, masons removed all of the Portland-based cement stucco and replaced it with nat­ural cement. Applied after WWII, the Portland-based cement stucco damaged the original brick columns and after scientific analysis, the architect determined the best solution to stop the damage was to return the columns to their original natural cement finish. This change, which is unnoticed with the resto­ration complete, will provide a better performing stucco.

The skilled craftsmanship, repointing, stuccoing, repairing, recoating, metalworking, and bronz­ing helped restore Tanner Amphitheater to its original appearance.

To see more photos of the restored amphiteater, visit our Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/arlingtonnatl/albums/72157709052868476

tanner amphitheater