The restoration of the St. Mary’s Church continues at a very good pace. While we are only eighteen days into the work, the progress from a visual standpoint is impressive as shown on the posted pictures. While some might think this portends that the project could be completed in half the estimated six months, there will be many weeks of sanding, painting and other work to complete the entire scope of anticipated restoration. Optimistic patience is my recommendation at this early stage of the project.
Having said this, new photos certainly reflect my positive enthusiasm. Coastal Electric Company, our historic electrical contractor, is the electrical contractor on this job. Michael P, who is their principal worker on this project, actually installed the lighting over twenty years ago, so he is very familiar with wiring location and update needs. They have been rewiring where necessary and installing new electrical outlets where needed. Fortunately, there is an open space between the existing plaster walls and the outside stone wall (6 inches), which makes running wires so much easier from the basement. The electrical work in the basement from the earlier removal of the interior wall board on the basement partitions has been completed. They have also finished the wiring for the new organ speakers. The sound company has also finished wiring for the new voice speakers and controls. All of this work is needed in advance of the plaster repair that is ongoing.
One can see that the back balcony which housed the two large woofer speakers has been removed and the speakers in the front ceiling bay areas have also been removed. The plaster behind those faux ceilings had deteriorated badly but the repairs are ongoing. The back balcony had no way of getting to it via steps and was strictly a way of housing the large woofer speakers and obviously was not historic. The new woofer speakers will be much smaller and can be positioned on the floor of the church. The removal of the back balcony makes the rear wall of the church so much more elegant with the larger cathedral opening for the bridal doors as seen on the picture.
All of the pews have now been moved from the church to an off-site location for repairs of dings and gouges but not for a complete re-sanding and refinishing as they are in pretty good shape. They will get two coats of polyurethane when finished before they are reinstalled as one of the last restoration work items. Removing the pews opens the entire space for scaffolding and allows continued plaster repair.
When the first coat of plaster repair is finished, it will be sanded and a finish coat applied and sanded again before painting. The wood work will also be sanded and prepared for painting before any paint is applied anywhere. So, progress will appear to slow as we move from macro finish to refined finish of the space.
Someone recently asked how the rood screen was taken down and it was a very good question. Fortunately, when Gorham built the rood screen they anticipated that at some time in the future it might need to be moved, so all the parts where connected with screws rather than welds. It was much like the old erector sets many used as children. It is currently being stored in the sacristy.
With the hoped warmer weather arriving, the repointing of the exterior stones of the church will begin within two weeks. Remember this is merely to prevent seepage into the church in areas that are defective and it is not a repointing of the entire exterior. Climbing ivy, which is an anathema for cement, covered the entire exterior of the stone church at one point in history.
So, the project continues with expected summer winds and continued good fortune. However, please do not stop your prayers as renovation/restoration project are always full of unexpected surprises, just like great novels