Here are some pictures of the renovation of Saint Boniface now well underway. I hope you enjoy seeing this. But you won't be able to see the whole package deal until Easter!
This is the artist's original proposal for the interior of Saint Boniface.
I had him create this in 2006, as a "someday" project. Since this original proposal (and this photo washes out the colors), we've changed our plan. The ceiling over the sanctuary has been done in a very different fashion, we decided to add a tile floor in the sanctuary, and a hardwood floor in the nave; and we also decided to have six images of saints painted and displayed on the wood paneling behind the altar. The ceiling has been decorated largely as you see, as have the walls. Also, this picture isn't intended to give an accurate depiction of the sanctuary as it was or will be; the artist was focusing on his recommendations, not on the pulpit (which is missing) or the altar, which wasn't being changed.
Here's a picture of Saint Boniface as we began the work. The Nativity Scene (with the Magi just arriving) reveals the day: January 2, Epiphany. That Sunday a crew of parishioners came in and hauled out everything that needed to be moved, and we began taking up the carpet. The windows you see were restored over the past three years by the same artist who is doing a lot of detail work in this project.
Oh, if you're wondering about those stations of the cross...some years back it was the fashion to take perfectly lovely works of art in churches, that were full color, and paint them mono-color. You won't believe this, but the theory was that having art that was so beautiful was a distraction; painting them over like that was the compromise in order to save them.
Thankfully, the iconoclasts have been overthrown, and in many places these unfortunate decisions are being reversed. We have a plan for restoring them to full color, that arose as we began this--but we can't do it by Easter. Something to look forward to.
Here we are hauling out the original pews.
We had a lot of discussion about whether to replace them or restore them. These were badly damaged over many years of being moved (one more problem with carpeting churches); as we moved them, two out of every four fell apart, and the third was only prevented from falling apart by those carrying it, leaving one in four that kept together. A lot of those had very bad cracks and splits. The cost of refurbishing them exceeded the cost of new, and refurbishing them would have left them with many remaining problems to manifest down the road.
The new pews will be similar in style and identical in wood and stain. Folks asked me, "will they have kneelers?" I'm thinking, "folks, this is me!" But I just smiled and said, "oh yes." The new kneelers will be pitched at a better distance from the back of the pew, making it easier on parishioners' backs.
Yes, that is yours truly on the left, wearing a Piqua Catholic sweat shirt. If you're wondering why I'm not in clerical attire, I believe I was wearing my cassock, and judged it prudent to remove it for this sort of work. You know me, a big liberal!
Say goodbye to the carpet.
After this carpet was taken up, we laid down plywood as a sub-floor, and have installed a tile floor (on top of cement board) in the sanctuary, and are--as I type!--installing hickory wood in the nave. We'll keep carpeting in the vestibules, in the sacristies and the stairs. The choir loft is getting a vinyl flooring.
Actually, the carpet wasn't in terrible shape, and if we didn't have to paint the church, and if we didn't have pews desperately in need of replacement, this carpet would have lasted awhile longer. But we decided that if we were going to do all the other work, why not take up the carpet--as opposed to coming back, in a few years, and removing the new pews (expense and damage!) to replace it then?
This carpet was laid by a parishioner who has since gone to his reward, Luke Holscher, who in addition to being an outstanding carpet man, was a hard worker at bingo and an intense player of Bid Euchre.
Before he departed this life, I used to play cards at his house with his wife and some bingo workers; they'd start at 10 pm on Sunday and go till about 3 am! (Part of the reason we went so late is almost every hand was analyzed right after! I can still recall Luke arguing about how a partner played his hand!) Then we started earlier, and still went pretty late. The rest of us have gotten together a few times since Luke left us. Luke did a splendid job laying this carpet--it was flat and tight, no ripples, and it came up easily. Requiescat in pace.
Here is the church after the pews and carpet have been removed. That is, we think, the original floor. Before it was carpeted, it had linoleum tile, which was removed at some point. If you look closely, you may be able to see a row of circles in the floor; this is where the gas lamps were at one point. Wouldn't it be cool if we still had those?
The odd bundle of carpet is our baptismal font. Why didn't we move it? It's three pieces of solid, antique marble, that's why. We used the old carpet to wrap it up safely as you can see. FYI, this font came from Assumption Church in Walnut Hills, in Cincinnati. After some cleaning and some slight modifications, we placed it here a few years ago. And, by the way, we have actually moved the font since this picture was taken in January. Now that we're installing a new hardwood floor, we had to move it. A parishioner with the right kind of equipment did it early today, while I, happily, wasn't here to witness it.
In the background you can see the image of our Infant King, which was restored to the church a few years ago on the Feast of Christ the King. Parishioners have noted that many good things have happened for us since that restoration. No, we don't dress him.
Here are some of the statues in process of being restored. The statue of our Lady, to the left, was in our 24-hour Eucharistic Exposition Chapel for 20 years; we wanted to bring it back to church, and another lovely statue of our Lady took its place. This statue has since been repainted in richer colors than you see here.
The others are, from left, St. Aloysius of Gonzaga, St. Louis, King of France, and St. Teresa of Avila. At least, I think it's St. Aloysius; there is no label on it, and when I searched for images of saints online, St. Aloysius isn't usually shown carrying the infant Lord; but other details suggest it's him, there's no one else it seems to be, so...who gives the ruling? I guess I do. Until someone else convinces me otherwise, it's St. Aloysius. (Pay no attention to his right hand. After the statue was restored, the dopey pastor tried to move the statue, and--like a scene from a horror flick, the hand came off! Agghh! He has since had restorative surgery and I don't get within two feet of this statue!)
FYI, these three statues were on the old high altar that was, alas, destroyed many years ago. A fourth statue, of Saint Clare, is in our all-night chapel which is named for her.
Here's how the apse ceiling--i.e., the sanctuary--looked for many years, until this renovation. (Actually it looked better than this picture, I think.) When we announced the renovation, one of the comments folks made was, don't change this! So our plan was to replicate this as you see it, only with brighter blue and gold.
Then, when the artist was installing one of the stained glass windows here, he saw this ceiling up close, and beckoned me up on the scaffolding. In my cassock, I climbed up and he showed me the indentation of the crosses, pressed into the metal. We wondered what it might look like. So we decided to strip part of this paint away, and then decorate part of it as it might look. If you look closely at the right side of this picture, you'll see a patch with bare tin, and then a patch with the "new look" that partially restores the old. Then we invited parishioners to vote: and they chose the "new/old" look overwhelmingly.
Here's the nave ceiling with the base coat of blue. A lot of folks didn't like it when they first saw it, but this was before the ribs were painted and the gold stars added. Everyone who has seen the ceiling now loves it. The ceiling is all metal; a lot of folks seeing those ripples, thought the ceiling was covered with paper. No, it's just how the metal is shaped, and I don't think we can do anything about it. The stars help conceal that.
Here's the apse ceiling with the new/restored look, still in process. It's "restored" insofar as the crosses were there all along, but had been covered with the design you saw earlier. We think they were gold way back when, but we haven't found a picture to verify it. It's "new" insofar as before, this ceiling was probably gold-on-tin, not gold-on-blue. The whole ceiling is all metal; but now that this is complete, those who've seen it think these ribs are real wood.
Update: here's the website for Michael Blanck, the artist doing the detail work