Master Craftsman Award
This award recognizes those individuals in Texas who have continued to use a particular traditional technique or method in construction to achieve authenticity in the restoration of historic resources. The technique must be considered artistic as well as rare.
What color would this have been? There is no way every paint color in this house was blue? What do I clean my floors with? Can you figure out how to restore the winged lions at Bishop’s Palace? Why is the plaster flaking off? I could ask twenty more burning questions like this and I would never know the answer without calling Jhonny Langer. Luckily, Jhonny for Galveston Historical Foundation, he is just down the street and always willing to come by Bishop’s Palace, Custom House, the 1940 Sears Building or Ashton Villa and give us the insight we need.
He can come over, when he is not traveling across the State of Texas working on vault doors, decorative finishes of over 36 restored Texas Courthouses, libraries, historic house museums and other countless historic resources in Texas. Jhonny Langer is the owner of SOURCE, a company that focuses on paint analysis, architectural and object restoration. His passion is in the details, in the history, in pulling together what was there originally, to open our eyes to paint colors and finishes we never knew existed.
A self-described “history nerd,” Jhonny grew up in the Houston Heights and graduated from Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts, then went on to study painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Art Institute and served a one-year Guggenheim art conservation internship in Venice.
Among Langer’s projects are Galveston’s opulent Bishop’s Palace, where removal of a basement false ceiling exposed a colorful mural painted by Josephine Gresham, Texas A&M’s University’s Cushing Library, where Langer restored a stenciled ceiling damaged during asbestos abatement; and Schulenburg’s Sengelmann Hall, an 1880s dance emporium where the paint and finish analysis was a first step in bringing the building to new life, which won a National Trust for Historic Preservation Honor Award in 2010. Jhonny also completed the work on the Harris County Courthouse in Houston, which reopened in 2011 after a $65 million dollar restoration.
Jhonny attacks project with a zeal and determination. His knowledge of the history of paint has amazing depth. He knows the finishes, when certain products were discovered and introduced in the market place, what the components of paint were in any given year and this base gets projects to the right choices every time. As he sometimes says, “paint doesn’t lie.”
His strong worth ethic and inquiring mind led him find clues on another grand courthouse, Red River in Clarksville. He paged through old county records while restoring painted surfaces at and chanced upon a fleeting reference to gold leaf and unusual pigments used above the judge’s bench. Although courtroom furniture since had been rearranged, Langer’s tests located a striking gold-leafed biblical injunction, “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness,” and a colorful mural buried under layers of paint.
Texas’ historic resources are richer in color, more vibrant in their feel, his hand and passion for history is left on each one he touches brush stroke by brush stroke.
Previous winners: Victor Hugo Salas (2013)