Restoring the Tangier American Legation – State Department Initiative Well Done! – Jean R. AbiNader

Tangier American Legation as it stands today

Tangier American Legation as it stands today

Jean R. AbiNader
June 12, 2018

A number of articles have been written in the US and Morocco recently about the Tangier American Legation, its importance as the first overseas US consulate, TALIM – the US NGO that now operates the facility as an international research center, community center, museum, and events space, and its many attractions for tourists and local alike.

TALIM has just released photos of the reconstruction of the “Moorish Pavilion” and exhibit space in the Legation and they tell a happy story about how the US State Department, Office of Overseas Buildings Operations, completed a roughly half a million dollar and five year restoration that revealed some interesting truths about the old buildings in the Legation.



This plaque, left, designates the Legation as a US National Historic Landmark, the only one outside the US.

Historic preservation is a very specialized field where demolition is done very slowly and methodically.  

When the plaster was removed from these walls it uncovered building techniques lost in time.  

Many of these walls were left partially exposed to celebrate the various building techniques used over time.





Ancient wall plaster techniques were utilized to resurface the walls both interior and exterior.

The compound called “Meblouk” is  a time-tested mixture of minerals found in the Atlas Mountains  and parts of Spain. 







                    The ingredients are aged and “fermented” for considerable time

                    before mixing together for the final wall skim coat.

                    The final product is very fine mineral based coating which is durable

                    yet allows water vapor to escape.  







Much of the wood elements were preserved throughout. 5

However some of the elements had to be replaced.

New structural beams are made from Atlas Cedar, right.




Many layers of paint were removed from the old cedar doors and window shades revealing intricate hand carved designs.  All wood surfaces were delicately coated with a mixture of natural mineral oils.


                                                                                       Refinished entrance, above.



                    Finished interior space is now used for art exhibits

                    celebrating a long history of Morocco and United States

                    cultural  heritage.




















Below, the final product as it stands today.  Recently coined “The most important monument in Tangier” by the mayor of Tangier. If you are traveling through Morocco or Southern Spain, the Legation should be on your list of places to visit, a true monument to diplomacy. 



Thanks to Legation Director John Davison for sending these photos and congratulations on yet another completed project enhancing the US-Morocco partnership.

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