History and Color
Color has the power to transport us in time, telling the story of style and culture in one paint chip. To honor the colors used in architecture across the American West, Dunn-Edwards has partnered with Architectural Resources Group (ARG), a group of conservators and architects who meticulously research, catalog, and conserve colors used in all sorts of historical buildings, from Beaux Arts and Victorian mansions to Art Deco and postwar Modernism homes. The result of this research is Dunn-Edwards Then, Now & Forever® paint collection of 300 colors, 142 of which are historically-accurate and 158 that are trending today.
Photo Credit: SAN FRANCISCO MARITIME NHP
Maritime Museum & Art Moderne Architecture
San Francisco’s Maritime Museum, housed in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building, is an exceptional example of Streamline Moderne architecture, with its lean curving lines, rounded edges, and nautical theme. As prime example of Art Moderne, the building played a large role in identifying a number historically accurate Then, Now & Forever® paint colors to the Art Moderne era.
First built in 1939 and partially funded by President Roosevelt’s New Deal Works Progress Administration, the building served as an additional facility to the waterfront park, and included a restaurant, an emergency hospital, showers and changing facilities for the ocean-going public. Artists Sargent Johnson and Hilare Hiler decorated the bathhouse with mosaic murals, carvings and paintings of Atlantis, the mythical ocean paradise.
photo credit: minghan
After it served World War II troops from 1941 - 1948 the building transitioned to a home for the San Francisco Maritime Museum, displaying dioramas, ship models, and exhibits.
photo credit: Gregory Varnum
When ARG researchers excavated the interiors they found various shades of blue paint on the walls,, a reference to the building’s setting on San Francisco Bay, along with one brown tone. These samples were then matched to Munsell Color System color chips in order to create reference points for Dunn-Edwards. After that, our own Dunn Edwards’ color lab created paint formulas based on these reference points, creating a few variations for Dunn-Edwards’ color expert Sara McLean to review. McLean worked closely with ARG, drawing on their expertise, to ensure each color was actually historically correct before final approval. The final colors were, in fact, then sent back to ARG for re-authentication. From this process Dunn-Edwards was able to generate the historically accurate colors: San Miguel Blue (DET569), Maritime (DET588), Lake Reflection (DET556), and Moderne Class (DET681).
photo credit: michael fraley
Historically Accurate Art Moderne Paint Colors
San Miguel Blue (DET569) resembles wintery, storm-churned waters. In addition to its place in Art Moderne lineage, the color also has roots throughout the west, as it has been found in other Victorian and Spanish Colonial buildings.
Maritime (DET588) is a periwinkle blue and named as an homage to both the maritime museum in which it was discovered and coastal life within the region.
Lake Reflection (DET556), is a bright pastel take on blue named in respect to the myriad of lakes that dot the western United States.
Rounding out the colors authenticated at the Maritime Museum is Moderne Class (DET681), a roasted coffee brown color so named as a reference to the burgeoning middle class that grew from the early '20s, to the Art Moderne era, and on into the postwar boom of the '50s.
For more on how architectural styles in the America West have informed the colors in the Then, Now & Forever® paint collection, reference our guide on Beaux Arts, Art Deco and Art Moderne architecture. Learn more about the architectural resources which have played key roles in defining our historically accurate line of paint colors, like San Francisco’s New Mission Theater, the homes of Cliff May, and The Mission Inn in Riverside, California.