City's Wadsworth Mansion Receives Finishing Touches

Middletown Press by Pam Dawkins - 07/07/2000

middletown_07072000.jpgMore than six months after it first opened to the public, the Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estates is receiving the finishing touches to its renovations.

The landscaping is almost completed and some furniture is being refinished, said Deborah Moore, the estate's executive director. And Patrick Ganino of Creative Evolution in Gales Ferry is putting what Moore called a "decorative finish" to the walls in the second floor hallway and bar area.

The estate, owned by the city and run by a specially-created authority, opened Dec. 31, 1999, after approximately $5 million of renovations. Ganino estimates the job will cost the authority between $5,000 and $10,000; he charges based upong the square footage of the walls.

Ganino, who rented scaffolding and a large ladder in order to reach along the mansion's tall walls, is using paint to highlight the raised designs in the hall and bar area. Along the top border in the upstairs hall, the walls are covered in a mixture of paper and plaster that is similar to wallpaper. In the bar, the raised figures on the dark walls will be highlighted in gold.

These touches, Moore said, were always in the plans, but "it required finding somebody that knew how to do it."

Ganino, 24, paints murals and faux finishes and does decorative painting. He started when he was 18 buy painting a mural at a nightclub in Florida, where he was living. His business grew by word of mouth, but he eventually moved back to Connecticut. In March 1998, after spending a few years working in an office, he painted a mural on a wall in a Norwich restaurant where he and his fiancee were going to have their wedding reception. After the wedding, his new wife urged him to quit the office job and start his own business.

Since then, most of this work has come through referrals, including the job at the mansion.

Ganino leaves business cards at every paint store he visits; the card left at National Paint & Wallpaper in Middletown led to a meeting with the Wadsworth Mansion architect.

Starting your own business, he said, requires you to do sales, marketing and labor. "You're pretty much everybody."

Ganino works during the day, while the mansion is open to tours and meetings and the second-floor offices of software firm Axiom 8 are busy. Standing on the scaffolding is a good way to meet people, he said.

"People are very interested," he said.

The work at the mansion is a little different than his usual job. Right now, the most popular request by homeowners is for faux finish walls; he uses a flat paint and overlays a glaze to simulate striped wallpaper. As for murals - painted in regular latex paint - the design depends upong the client.

His reason for getting into this business? "Honestly, money," Ganino said.

He's met a lot of "starving artists" who can't sell paintings they've worked on for hundreds of hours. Murals are customized to the client and created in the client's home, so there is no time wasted on work that won't sell.

The majority of his customers, Ganino finds, are small business owners. His theory is that, because they need to be creative to begin and run their own businesses, entrepreneurs are more likely to be creative when it comes to their homes. These clients have also helped him with one of the more mundane aspects of business - doing his taxes.

The telephone number for Creative Evolution is (860) 464-6702 and the Web site is

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