The photos in this gallery compare scenes from Pasaquan circa 1990 — around four years after Eddie Owens Martin died — with post-preservation images captured in the fall of 2016. The differences are sometimes dramatic, given how little time had passed since Martin had stopped tending the site. Pasaquan was significantly more deteriorated by 2014, when the Kohler Foundation undertook the site’s renewal in partnership with the Pasaquan Preservation Society.
These photos demonstrate the conscientiousness of the preservation effort, if not its perfection. The project involved laborious documentation of the original colors, with the goal of matching St. Eom’s schemes as exactly as possible. It’s evident in these images that while mostly successful, there are cases where some nuances have been lost and some color details altered. Given the scale of the site, that was probably inevitable and not an unreasonable price to pay for long-term preservation.
Overall, the effect is stunning, but that impact may not be to everyone’s taste. The colors today are certainly more consistently bright than at any time in Martin’s life since it is unlikely he ever painted all of Pasaquan at once. However, faced with raging deterioration, doing a complete repaint was probably the only feasible way to stabilize it. The colors will naturally fade, and in a few years the effect will be closer to the condition of the site when still under Martin’s care. That’s a reasonable price to pay, and in the meantime the amped-up drama of the place has an appeal that Martin might very well have appreciated.
You can view additional photos showing the level of deterioration before the preservation project at a page maintained by Columbus State University, which is now the steward of Pasaquan: http://digitalarchives.columbusstate.edu/exhibits/show/pasaquan–the-story-of-st–eom/photo-gallery–a-work-in-progr
View a gallery devoted to Pasaquan post-preservation.