If These Walls Could Talk
The Restoration of the Church of the Holy Family
There’s something to be said about history, heritage, and legacy. It’s what got us where we are today, and it will lead us into the future. It’s the hard work of our ancestors, as well as our duty and responsibility to preserve it. It’s the gift that we’ll leave for future generations as our own special mark in time. It’s what built up our faith family and makes for a strong cornerstone and landmark in our local community. At Our Lady of Charity’s Holy Family worship site, we’re working to do just that, but we need your help. Together we can restore our historic church to the Celtic gem that once served so many. Let’s get started.
On Sunday, November 29, 1908 the current church of Holy Family was dedicated. The next five years were spent in planning and carrying out the interior decoration of the church. In that planning, the church was decorated with Celtic art of the 8th and 9th centuries. The sanctuary panels were taken entirely from the ‘Gospels of Lindisfarne’ and almost all of the decorative work on the soffits is either a reproduction or an adaptation of the ‘Book of Kells.’
The work of Mr. Rambusch, Sr., and his efficient corps of artists brought such joy that the parish celebrated with a ‘solemn reopening of the Church’ on Sunday, January 25, 1914. The Church of the Holy Family went on to be known as ‘the Most Celtic Church in America’ for decades.
Celtic Art Restoration
After much conversation with Swiatek Studios, we are choosing the route of ‘restoration’ over ‘re-creation’ when it comes to uncovering the beautiful Celtic artwork hidden beneath layers of paint throughout the church. This means we are trying to preserve as much of the integrity of the orginal artwork as possible in respect to our ancestors that initially created it. However, based on various elements beyond our present control, some areas were, unfortunately, damaged beyond repair during the initial stages of covering it up. Thankfully, the talented Swiatek team is able to fill in these missing pieces through the use of intricate stenciling and vintage photographs, creating a seamless, beautiful transition.
Stained Glass Window Repairs
The stained glass windows are intended to exemplify two dogmas of the faith: The Divine Maternity of Our Lady and the Holy Eucharist as a sacrament of sacrifice. The windows come from the Tiroler Glasmalerei (Stained Glass) Company in Innsbruk, Austria, and are examples of some of their finest work. The windows need repair (some more major than others) with re-leading, glass repair, and protection. In the winter of 2018-2019, several panes of stained glass separated and needed emergency repair. To preserve the beauty entrusted to us, they need to be professionally restored at this time.
Our ‘Lift-a-vator’ at Holy Family allows access for all to enjoy worship in our beautiful church, to attend the community dinners that provide outreach to the less fortunate in our community, and to attend social events in our hall. The ‘Lift-a-vator’ is essential to our community life. However, while passing inspection, the lifespan of our ‘Lift-a-vator’ is very quickly coming to an end. We need to be proactive to ensure all can enjoy our church and its amenities.
Music is one of the most essential elements to any worship experience. Thankfully, Holy Family is home to a 20-rank Hook & Hastings pipe organ, originally built in 1915. And while the beautiful facade pipes create a beautiful gold frame around our large rosette window, the organ actually houses more than 1,000 pipes behind. Sadly, throughout the decades, the organ console’s electronic mechanisms have deteriorated beyond repair, and now the organ is not able to be used to its full potential, with parts of the organ unable to even be played.
Exterior Stone Work
Holy Family Church was built using White Medina Stone. The stone, while providing a magnificent edifice, has undergone major weathering. The stone itself sheds, and sections of stone have separated and broken off. The stonework needs constant repair and weatherizing to make sure it lasts into the future. Most importantly, the south side (Tifft Street) underwent serious weathering in the winter of 2018-2019 and needs immediate attention.
In our sanctuary, lighting upgrades need to be made to highlight the beautiful restorative artwork and limit the shadowing effect. We will also be upgrading the lighting to the latest LED technology to be both energy and cost efficient.
In our 21st century, we need to make every experience of worship a pleasant one. Our church is home to many weddings, funerals, and liturgical experiences that bring people to Holy Family. Our goal is to make those experiences as comfortable as possible.
Exterior Stone Work: $200,000
Window Repairs: $256,000
Elevator Replacement: $220,000
Interior Restoration: $235,000
Air Conditioning: $240,000
Lighting Upgrades: $75,000
New Organ Console: $60,000
Total Costs: $1,260,000
Adopt a Piece of our Church
Consider adopting a piece of our treasured artwork. From Celtic knots and crosses to entire altars, your family or business’s name can be memorialized for generations to come. A map will be placed at the main entrance of the Church to serve as a roadmap of where in the church each family has become a sponsor. All funding received from these donations will go strictly to the continued restoration of our iconic worship space. Please note: Any donation $250 and above is considered a Federal tax write off, and a letter of receipt will be mailed to you for your personal records.