Gothic Reborn: St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Ridgway, Illinois

In 2016, the architectural firm of Cram and Ferguson completed work on St. Kateri Tekakwitha (formerly St. Joseph's) in Ridgway, Illinois. The original parish church was a pleasing red brick, gothic revival structure built in 1894. Unfortunately, in February 2012 the church was almost entirely destroyed by a tornado.

Photo: Seth Perlman/AP
Left: Before   Right: After
In an interesting and wonderfully symbolic twist however, while the rest of the church lay in ruin, the historical high altar of the church remained entirely unscathed:


While it might have been tempting to simply go with a modern structure, another path was thankfully chosen and Ethan Anthony and Cram and Ferguson were brought in. Here was the end result as described by the firm:
The new building is a Gothic-inspired design similar to but not derived from the original St. Joseph's Church ... The church seats 425 people in a traditional nave focused on the original Carrara marble altar that sat in St Joseph's. The 95 foot high bell tower houses the original peal of bells that was housed in St. Joseph's tower and is capped by a 60 high steeple. The steeple is visible for miles around as it is the tallest object in town.

The material of the exterior is limestone quarried nearby in Missouri from the Wisconsin limestone formation a great range of stone that stretches from the source to the mouth of the Mississippi River. The steel frame is designed to resist shaking from the New Madrid Fault which is nearby in Cairo, Illinois and the wind from a major tornado.
Let's begin with a view of the exterior of the new church.

I am particularly impressed with the stonework on the new church. The use of traditional materials like limestone and other traditional materials goes a very long way in making the exterior of this church timeless in look and feel. What's more, the simple ornamental details found on the tower and other parts of the structure of the church give testament to both the importance of ornament but also the fact that a very little bit can go a very long way.

The project was also featured in Traditional Building (who happened to also give a very nice view of the front doors of the church:

Source: Traditional Building
As for that high altar that miraculously survived the tornado? It was re-installed in the new church:

Finally, the following video will provide some further views of some of the wonderful details of the project.

For further information, please visit the Cram and Ferguson project website.

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