AUBURN — The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum received a substantial donation to a fundraising campaign that will restore its showroom to its appearance of the 1930s.

Friday, Horizon Bank, represented by Auburn branch manager Brent Niebel and senior customer service representative Sandy Jones presented a $25,000 check to museum executive director and CEO Brandon Anderson and trustee Terry Hines.

Last year, the bank made another $25,000 donation to the restorative efforts.

The museum is seeking to raise $840,000 by June 2022 in order to receive a $420,000 grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation for showroom restoration.

“Our capital campaign focuses on our National Historic Landmark building,” Anderson said. “It includes the restoration of the 12,000-square-foot showroom. In the National Historic Landmark listing, it was stated that this showroom is one of the greatest examples of Art Deco architecture in the Midwest.”

To prepare for the restoration, the museum hired a recognized expert in the paint analysis field with a goal of returning the showroom to its 1930s appearance. A portion of the showroom’s northwest corner has been restored to show detailed differences in the terrazzo floor, wall and ceiling colors, metallic aluminum and metallic gold-bronze flake detail.

The current color scheme was based on memories of former Auburn Automobile Co. employees. The original scheme featured polychrome finish treatment, with shades of tan, pink, blue-green and metallic paints.

“From our historic structures report, we did a paint analysis and we went back and looked at historic photos from the 1930s and original finishes, including decorative finishes. We’re going to bring that all that back,” Anderson said. “We’re going to bring the showroom back to what it looked like when people stepped here in 1930.

“This year, we’re celebrating our 45th year. This building has actually been a museum longer than it has been anything else, including as the automobile company administration building,” he said.

“Thanks to Horizon Bank for kicking off this important campaign for the museum,” Hines said.

“We are part of this community, and we appreciate the different institutions that make us part of their initiatives,” Anderson said.

“We’re grateful that we can contribute,” Niebel said. “It’s such a historic landmark.”

Restorative efforts

Photos from 1930 edition of the automobile company’s magazine, “The Accelator,” proved to be invaluable sources of information for restorative efforts.

A 400-page-plus report was created outlining the building, its history and providing a blueprint for the restorative efforts.

“It’s a lot of going back and studying the building structurally, history-wise, finish-wise, decoration-wise,” Anderson said.

The showroom’s original look featured custom paint colors. Munsell charts were used to determine the correct color codes.

“The person who did the paint analysis portion of this travels all over the world,” Anderson said. “This has been his life’s career. He’s well-known for his paint analysis work.

“The extensive use of metallic paints reflects their popularity in high-style Art Deco interiors and would have complimented the metallic finishes of the automobiles displayed in the room.”

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