Restoration Plan (Phases)

The restoration of the Lost Shul Mural is a multi-phase project. The mural was originally painted on the plaster walls of Chai Adam; as a result significant damage has occurred over the last 100 years, particularly when it was covered by the wall.

This complex project has been divided into four main phases over five years:


Phase I:                Planning / Testing / Engineering (2012‐13)

Phase II:               Outreach / Mural Conservation (2013‐14)

Phase III:             Mural Relocation and Restoration (2015-16)

Phase IV:             Education and Interpretation (2015-16)


Each project phase is described in further detail below.


Phase I: Planning / Testing / Engineering (2012‐13)

  • Transfer of property ownership, negotiation with new owners for access to the mural.
  • False wall is removed to reveal mural in former Chai Adam Synagogue.
  • Conservator Constance Silver carries out preliminary examination and tests on the mural, concludes that building conditions over 30 years have damaged it severely, and recommends that the mural be removed to stable environment for conservation as soon as possible.
  • Through initial treatments, Silver establishes that deteriorated paint can be stabilized over a period of several months, ascertains degree of difficulty to remove unsightly obfuscating accretions, and lays out corresponding action plans.
  • Architect Marcel Beaudin, Great Northern Construction, and Engineering Ventures carry out engineering studies to determine feasibility and costs of moving the mural.
  • Historical research for Vermont Public Television documentary ‘Little Jerusalem,’ The Story of the Jewish Community of Burlington, Vermont, focuses attention on the mural.
  • Website is developed, testimonials are provided, and fundraising begins.


Phase II: Outreach / Mural Conservation (2013‐14)

  • As is essential before relocating the mural, paint on plaster is stabilized and consolidated to prevent further flaking.
  • Photography and video documentation of process
  • Project committee accelerates organizational planning and media outreach.
  • Publicity and fundraising: design and printing of new brochure; launch of Lost Shul Mural website (; fundraising at the local and national levels.
  • Ohavi Zedek scholar‐in‐residence Samuel D. presents the history and artistry of the mural to the community.
  • Little Jerusalem and two Gruber Scholar-in-Residence lectures are produced as DVDs.
  • Publicity efforts result in generous television and radio coverage and dozens of articles in online and in local, national and international publications.
  • Removal of grime and discolored varnish; test patches reveal brilliant colors beneath the layers of grime.
  • Removal of all obfuscating accretions and overpaint continues with preliminary cleaning of paint to restore original colors and brightness.
  • Continuing photography and videography of conservation process
  • Additional engineering, lab and conservation studies carried out in preparation of moving mural.
  • Computer modeling of former Chai Adam Synagogue begins.


Phase III: Mural Relocation and Restoration (2015-16)

  • Preparation of formal project plan and other essential project documents and permits.
  • After conservation and consolidation, the mural is packed and moved to Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, where is installed in a raised position in the public vestibule. The mural will be seen at a height similar to its original location at Chai Adam. This work consists of several carefully sequenced stages.
  • Once the mural is stabilized and cleaned, a temporary facing is added to strengthen the paint, allowing for capture of any paint during the move.
  • After the slate and wooden roof over the mural is removed, the mural shell is consolidated and strengthened. Prior to being cut out from its present position, a steel frame is installed around the mural and its plaster and lath backing. It is carefully wrapped for protection and padded to minimize vibrations. The framed structure is lifted by forklift and then transported the .4 miles to Ohavi Zedek Synagogue on nearby North Prospect Street.
  • Subsequently, the roof of the former Chai Adam building will be reconstructed, slate by slate, and a new apartment wall will be created.
  • In order to bring the mural inside Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, part of the entrance wall to the synagogue vestibule is removed. Once installed the mural is elevated to the proper position and suspended, projecting out and over the public lobby.
  • When the mural is secured in its new position, the final stage of conservation and restoration will begin. Areas of loss will be filled in with a putty‐like material, and these areas will then be textured and inpainted with appropriate museum‐quality paints. Using 1986 archival photos, studies will be made of the original appearance of lost compositional areas to create templates for recreating them.
  • Throughout, fundraising continues.


Phase IV (2015‐2016): Presentation, community outreach, and educational programs

  • The mural will be installed for public viewing as part of a larger educational exhibition detailing the work’s unique significance within the “lost” but not forgotten worlds of Eastern European Jewry and of American Jewish immigrants and refugees.
  • Informational and educational components will likely include affiliated exhibitions, wall text, printed materials, a computer terminal with multi‐media components, web‐based information and apps for mobile devices.
  • Interpretation will address the history and art of the Lost Shul Mural, Lithuanian Jewish culture, Burlington’s Jewish history, Lithuania, the Holocaust, and related topics. Notable historians, conservators, art historians, museum directors, archivists and religious leaders are advising on the presentation. Content will be written and/or reviewed by these and other eminent scholars under the direction of …

An Ambitious Undertaking

The restoration of the Lost Shul Mural will be a multi-phase project. The mural was originally painted on the plaster walls of Chai Adam; as a result significant damage has occurred over the last 100 years, particularly when it was covered by the wall.

Phase I - Evaluation

The restoration of the Lost Shul Mural will be a multi-phase project. The mural was originally painted on the plaster walls of Chai Adam; as a result significant damage has occurred over the last 100 years, particularly when it was covered by the wall.

Phase II - Conservation

The second phase of the project will involve stabilizing the remaining paint on the plaster to prevent further flaking. The paint will be cleaned to restore the original brightness of the piece (the existing photos include years of grime that darkens the paint).

Phase III - Relocation

Once the mural is stabilized and cleaned work will begin to extract it from the apartment building where it is currently located. The roof of the old synagogue building will be removed and a steel cage will be constructed around the mural that will allow it to be lifted out of the building and transported to its new home in the main lobby of Ohavi Zedek Synagogue for public viewing. Once the mural is prepped for transportation a forklift will be used to lift the mural out of the building and carry it approximately 1/4 mile up the road to Ohavi Zedek Synagogue where it will be installed.

Phase IV - Restoration

Once relocation is complete the conservation team will complete their work, repairing any additional damage, in-filling the damaged plaster and painting the sections of the mural where paint has been lost to restore it to the archival slide images.

Phase V - Education

The mural will remain on display at Ohavi Zedek Synagogue where it will be available for viewing and open to the public. We envision creating educational displays as part of the final installation so visitors can learn the history of this artifact and its place as a remnant of what was lost in Europe during the Holocaust.

To The Top


  • What needs to be done?

    The mural is flaking badly. The paint needs to be stabilized and reattached to the plaster, the work must be cleaned, and then the empty spaces where paint has flaked must be infilled by a skilled conservator.
  • Where will the restored mural be located?

    Currently the mural is located in a small apartment building that was once the Chai Adam Synagogue. Once preserved, it will be detached from the building and moved to Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington, VT for public display.
  • Who is managing this project?

    The Lost Shul Mural restoration is a project of a dedicated group of volunteers supported by Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, a religious 501(c)(3) organization based in Burlington, VT and the largest Jewish community in the State of Vermont.
  • Why save this mural?

    As far as we know, this is a one of a kind piece of art of a style that was almost completely destroyed during the Holocaust. We feel that it is our responsibility to protect and restore this artwork on behalf of the Jewish people and for the generations to come.