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Recent CHF Preservation Achievements
A $99,000 grant from the CHF provided funding to allow the Cathedral parish to clean and polish the 100-year-old marble floors throughout the main level of the church in celebration of the Cathedral’s centennial. To date, 13,500 square feet of 35 varieties of marble have been expertly repaired, honed and polished including:
- Six chapels (Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph’s, St. Peter’s, Sacred Heart, baptistry, and Founder’s Chapel)
- Six shrine altars including the walkway (ambulatory) connecting the Shrines of Nations
- Front entry to the church (vestibule)
- Main altar (sanctuary) including six, 24-foot marble columns supporting the bronze baldachin canopy over the main altar.
$ 39,000 of the grant remains to be applied toward acquiring floor polishing equipment and repairing the main floor comprised of travertine stone floor. This portion of the project covers 23,800 square feet and has endured the heaviest wear and tear over the past century. Church operations staff is currently reviewing options on when this portion of the project will be completed.
The CHF raised $3.4 million to restore the Cathedral’s two historic pipe organs. The completed project included adding 1,000 pipes, casework, choir seating and improved heating and lighting in the gallery. Click here to read the full story on restoring the Great Cathedral Pipe Organs: http://www.cathedralheritagefoundation.org/node/95.
Through the generosity of our donors, the CHF has helped the Cathedral parish reduce the amount owed for the exterior restoration it completed in 2002. To date, $4.7 million remains on the debt financing the Cathedral parish incurred to complete the $35 million project. This monumental exterior project undertaken between 2000-2002 replaced the Cathedral’s copper dome, and cleaned and restored the granite exterior to its original splendor. Related projects included repairing exterior windows, correcting drainage problems, and installing safety and mechanical and electrical systems upgrades. When stakeholders made the decision to move forward on the project, 85 years of exposure to Minnesota weather had taken its toll on the magnificent dome and the mortar joints. The project replaced nearly 100,000 square-feet copper dome and roofs, and tuck-pointed 42 miles of mortar joints to prevent further water seepage.
Even though the exterior restoration work has been completed, the Cathedral parish still needs substantial funds to retire the remaining debt that funded completion of the project. As the Cathedral turned the corner on the new millennium, the decision was made to borrow to complete the needed work, even as fundraising efforts were continuing. All those involved in this once-in-100-years project feared that any delay in completing the necessary repairs would result in further damage from the elements to the Cathedral’s structural integrity, risk of loss of irreplaceable and priceless works of sacred art in the interior, and ongoing safety concerns throughout the building.
To maintain and preserve one of America’s premier historic buildings requires significant resources and commitments. For financial support, we rely on parishioners, visitors, guests, friends and foundation supporters.
A comprehensive restoration plan has been developed to address other needed restoration, including the repainting, repair, and upgrades to the interior, as well as the renovation of the lower level of the Cathedral.
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In 2015-2016, the CHF has turned its focus to restoring the Cathedral’s famous rose windows, as iconic as the Cathedral’s dome. Attention will be given first to the South Rose Window (facing Selby Avenue) depicting the Beatitudes and American Saints, and to the North Rose Window (facing the Dayton Avenue side of the Cathedral) featuring the American Jesuit Martyrs, as the two most seriously in need of significant restoration and repair. In addition to replacing the lead with longer lasting lead alloy, the project includes washing off decades of dust and incense smoke. The restoration cost of these first two windows will be approximately $209,000. Once these two windows are completed, our attention will turn to repairing the East Rose Window – the “Resurrection” window – on the façade of the Cathedral facing John Ireland Boulevard. CHF is working closely with the Parish to determine the timing and funding for this critical project.
Each of the three rose windows measures an expansive 26 feet in diameter and is surrounded by 20 small rosette windows. Designed by Charles J. Connick, one of America’s premiere stained glass artists, the Cathedral’s rose windows remain among the finest examples of stained glass in the world. With technical skill and artistic creativity, Connick refined a stained glass technique first used in the Middle Ages for Gothic cathedrals that allows light to pass through the glass. The result is a brilliant “interplay of light and color” in blues, reds and yellows when the rose windows’ nearly transparent colored glass is illuminated by the sun.
After 75 years of exposure to the elements, the lead and grout holding the stained glass of all three windows has eroded to a critical point. All are at serious risk of loss of structural integrity and glass. In order to avoid catastrophic failure, emergency work has begun on the south rose window, and will begin before winter 2016 on the north window.
Please consider a gift to the Cathedral Heritage Foundation to support this important restoration work. Gifts may be made online at http://www.cathedralheritagefoundation.org/node/103
For more information on how you can help preserve the Cathedral of Saint Paul, contact us via email or call the Development Office at 651-300-6590.
A comprehensive lighting study for the Cathedral is underway. Overseen by Curator Dr. John Dowdle, who arranged to brilliantly light the Cathedral’s façade for the 2007 Cathedral Cornerstone Centennial, this comprehensive analysis will evaluate and recommend potential improvements and enhancements to the Cathedral’s current interior and exterior lighting. It will focus on the most recent lighting technology, lighting placement, energy conservation, and design features to help improve interior light levels and enhance the visibility of the Cathedral on the Saint Paul skyline. Once the study is complete, CHF will present its recommendations to the Cathedral Parish, with potential next steps.
For more background on this project and to donate to the lighting project, click here http://lightthecathedral.myshopify.com/