The Work of this Generation

"Si, it is always in my heart."

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We continue on schedule and on budget, as well as watching the full moon on July 13.  

As the warmer weather is now here, thankfully, Dave Schiapo, Jr. or Fish, has been expertly doing the exterior repointing of the Church, and is also thankful to be finished with the repointing.  He has truly done a remarkable job, giving the church a “robust 40%” of the entire repointing that eventually needs to be accomplished.  (See picture above.)  We are so pleased with the match of mortar color and composition.  

Next, all the windows and doors will be re-caulked and the exterior wood frames painted.  While repairing the red stone around the church was not in the original contract, we have asked Burman to give us a price for repairs to the red stone around the south door and the bridal doors, which is critical before they complete the re-caulking on these areas.

This is a very good example of why we had a 20% contingency fund built into our original budget numbers.  In a restoration there is always something that appears even after careful review.

We have spent considerable time examining the exterior of the St. Mary’s, searching for what might be the cornerstone that was laid on September 2, 1847.  Unfortunately, to date, despite tapping on stones and even removing two which we thought might be the most promising cornerstones on either side of the Bridal Doors, we still have not found it!

Alexander McGregor, the Scotsman, who also headed up the masons at Ft. Adams in 1820, was the stone mason on the church.  Like the first Rector, Hobart Williams, Alexander McGregor, did not leave us any information of where the cornerstone might be located or even a clue.  So, the search continues.

In one of my conversations with the former Rector, Gordon Stenning, he shared that the bell tower once had been struck by lightning.  So, we had the tower and church bell reviewed while we had the lift and a mason, to ensure it was still in good condition.  

The bell was cast in 1849 by the Meneely Foundry West then located in West Troy, NY, now called Watervliet, NY.  That foundry was started by Andrew Meneely in 1826 after he had apprenticed for Benjamin Hanks, recognized as the first American to cast bronze cannons and church bells.  Benjamin actually responded like others to Paul Revere’s ride in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Rector Stenning still has his wit and many stories of the church.  Apparently, after the tower was struck by lightning, the regular bell ringer was rightfully concerned about his safety from pulling the rope attached to the bell.  So, the story goes, Rector Stenning told him, “Now if you die a normal death, your obituary will appear in the local paper without much recognition.  But if you die because the church bell fell on you while you were executing your duties as the church bell ringer, it will be big news covered by national television and papers.”  He continued his duties of ringing the bell and it never fell.

The painting is ongoing with the completion of the inside walls, ceiling and beams, expected by the end of July.  The individual stones are being painted one at a time from the selected four-color palette after the walls were painted the color for the mortar.  The walls look terrific and the scored faux stones on the wall enhance the beauty of the church in a way that is very difficult to express in words.

There are four individuals painting the faux stones which was the original look.  The carving of the lines by the painting team for the stones around the corners and over the windows and doors reminds me of the great churches in Italy and the craftsmanship done there.  It is spectacular, and we can only hope you agree when it is fully complete and ready for occupancy.  

One of the painters, Stephen, has  a work ethic that is remarkable.  He has been on the job since we began and works tirelessly every day up in the scaffolds, just like the artisans of the Renaissance.  Since he is a Spanish speaker, my high school Spanish has come in handy to communicate with him and some of the others on the job.  It has also been helpful to develop a relationship as the project continues.  

While watching him I asked him as he was painting the back wall high above the bridal doors taking exacting care to paint each stone carefully,  “Stephen you take such care in your painting and work on this project, do you ever consider that this is the Casa de Dios (House of God) and not just another building?” 

“Si,” he responded, “it is always in my heart,” patting his chest. 

The new ceiling lights are up and turned on so that the painters have more light for their work.  They are also spectacular and will provide light that never before existed before in the church, as well as a beautiful light wash effect on the color palette. 

The original hanging pendant lights above the pews which are being refinished now, will be reinstalled after all the interior work is completed.

 All right, that is a wrap on the update and look forward to sharing the color palette and answering any questions at the Reveal Party next Wednesday July 20th in the Parish Hall at 5:30.  Unfortunately, because the work crew will be working late that night on scaffolding, it will not be possible to take everyone into the church to see the progress.  


Posted by Ron Machtley with