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Work to restore Odessa’s historic homes continues through pandemic

Amanda Parrish
Middletown Transcript

ODESSA -- The Historic Odessa Foundation is restoring the original paint colors of the Corbit-Sharp House, as part of an ongoing project for all the foundation’s buildings.

The Corbit-Sharp House’s trim is getting painted as part of the work to restore the original colors of the home.

The project started in 2005, when they did a paint analysis on all interiors and exteriors of the houses, Odessa Bank and Cantwell’s Tavern, executive director Debbie Buckson said.

“We have been using paint science to restore what we believe, based on the science available to us, what was the first finish of the buildings,” she said.

The paint analysis of the Corbit-Sharp House’s outside began in 2015, and was discovered much of the trimming was originally light yellow, compared to the white Odessa patrons have seen for years.

The original trim of the Corbit-Sharp House was white.

The work on the Corbit-Sharp House started prior to the pandemic — in early 2020 — and they had to continue because Buckson said once the painting starts, they can’t stop. Having a little to no revenue this year, given the halt of all tours, made this year’s paint job difficult for the foundation to afford.

“Had I known we would be faced with this pandemic, I may have stalled that project for another year because it is a terrible strain on the foundation because we didn’t have funding for it,” she said. “Our primary mission is the preservation and protection of these buildings, so we couldn’t let it go through another winter not done.”

The front of the house is done, and they just started painting the back earlier this month.

The first building of the 15-year project to have its exterior restored was the Collins-Sharp House in the mid-2000s.

“The earthy red was a big shock to the system because everything on Main Street was white until this point. The streetscape over the course of fifteen years has changed dramatically based on all our research,” the executive director said.

Rob Galloway, a second-generation painter from Scotland, has done the paint restoration on all the houses.

“His preparation work, preparation on the surfaces is so important. We don’t want anything lost. We want to protect everything that is original as much as we can,” Buckson said.

After the Collins-Sharp House was finished, they moved on to Cantwell’s Tavern, then Wilson-Warner House, the Odessa Bank and now the Corbit-Sharp House. The final exterior they will restore is the Pump House.