Re: Very Old Brick Masonry - Painted or Not?
200 years ago nobody in their right mind would paint brick, but they did use mineral-based washes and whitewash. Redwash with the mortar joints picked out with a narrow pinstripe of white was very popular in my area. Eventually premixed paints became available and the cost went down and folks started painting brick with oil based and we know that ends: eventually the film thickness builds up and moisture pushes the paint from the brick.
If you did somehow strip the oil or acrylic paint entirely off, you could go back to a limewash paints that does not have breathing/moisture problems when applied over masonry.
Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.