CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Over the course of its 89 years, the West Virginia State Capitol building has undergone several major paint restoration projects, and master painter Richard Withrow of the W.Q. Watters Company has performed or supervised work on nearly every one of those projects.
In recognition of his personal contributions over the last six decades to the restoration of the West Virginia Capitol Building, including the current restoration project anticipated for completion in Spring 2021, Gov. Jim Justice has given Mr. Withrow the Distinguished Mountaineer Award. Mr. Withrow was also invited to inscribe his signature alongside the original painters.
Mr. Withrow’s life and career has intertwined and matured alongside the Capitol Building. In 1960, only 23 years after the dedication of the Capitol Building, Mr. Withrow picked up a paintbrush as an apprentice painter with W.Q. Watters Company and soon after found himself working on the restoration of the exterior dome, marking the beginning of his experience with the State Capitol. By 1996, as a master painter and foreman, he was supervising the restoration of the interior rotunda, replicating the color and details of the original decorative paint.
Over the years, Mr. Withrow has touched nearly every inch of the Capitol Building, from painting corridors and offices to restoring the paint in the Supreme Court of Appeals and both the Senate and House Chambers. He also supervised the exterior renovation of the Governor’s Mansion completed in 2020 and will supervise its interior renovation beginning in 2021.
In the current restoration project of the Capitol, Mr. Withrow has overseen and trained other painters in replicating historic methods of painting and glazing the inner dome, rotunda, and the exterior dome. He has developed countless samples and techniques to match over 20 different finishes in the building.
Accessing the current restoration work requires a 234-foot climb to the top of the scaffolding multiple times per day, a remarkable feat for a man in his 80s, and that fact testifies to Mr. Withrow’s dedication, professionalism, and passion for the Capitol building.
To commemorate his personal service and as representative of the countless tradesmen and women who have constructed and preserved the state’s iconic State Capitol, Mr. Withrow’s signature will join those of the original painters, hidden from view on an ornamental plaster cornice feature but not forgotten to history.