Preserving the real places and the real stories of Texas.

Real Places 2019: Plaster Restoration In Your Historic Building

Breakout 2A

Day/Time: Thursday, January 17, 11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Location: Creekside I, 2nd Floor
Speakers: Burt Wagner, D&B Lath and Plaster, Inc. and Brit Barr, Texas Historical Commission

Before there was drywall, there was plaster, and historic Texas buildings are full of it. And while three-coat plaster is unmatched in strength and durability, resists fire, and reduces sound transmission, when damaged, repairs appear daunting and expensive. But restoration is possible and is often the preferable solution. Benefit from Burt Wagner’s decades of experience as he and Texas Historical Commission architects present on several plaster restoration and repair projects in historic buildings. The cases presented will illustrate the sequence of restoration from a damaged state, through selective demolition, and to application of multiple layers to achieve the finished product.

Members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) can earn continuing education credits for this activity (or many activities at this event). Texas Society of Architects (TxA) is the provider of record. When Learning Units (LU) and health, safety, and welfare (HSW) credits are available for AIA-approved courses, they are noted at the end of an activity description. More information about AIA’s continuing education program can be found at and



Owner of San Antonio-based D&B Lath & Plaster, Inc., Burt Wagner learned the craft of plastering from his father, William “Billy” Wagner. Starting around age 15, he worked on his dad’s jobsites, “chopping” lime putty to mix traditional lime plaster. He soon graduated to scaffolding and continued in the craft of plastering. Eventually, he became the boss, and his dad worked for him until recent years. Wagner has worked on numerous new and historic buildings, most notably the 1993 Texas State Capitol restoration. Other recent projects have included Fulton Mansion State Historic Site in Rockport and the San Saba and Lynn county courthouses.


Brit Barr has more than 25 years of experience as a project manager and architect in several Austin firms, including over a decade in historic preservation. As an architect for the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, he reviews grant applications, architectural plans, and specifications, as well as projects funded without THC aid. Additionally, he provides technical assistance to counties experiencing issues that require correction in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. When out of the office, he is often meeting with county officials on a roof, in an attic or basement, or on scaffolding.