Before and After: St Mary’s Church in Marion, Ohio

The architectural firm of William Heyer Architect recently completed a renovation project at St. Mary's Church in Marion, Ohio.  The project came within the context of a gothic revival church that had undergone post-conciliar revisions but which still retained the bones of its original reredos. Here was the original church:

The original sanctuary (covered in festal greenery)
Here is the sanctuary as it stood at prior to William Heyer Architect being engaged:

As you can see, the sanctuary walls had been painted over and the reredos was stripped, having primarily come to hold flowers and plants. The tabernacle was placed off to the right side of the sanctuary. The side altars had been entirely removed and above the ambo was a kind of hanging canopy.  The sanctuary floor was extended to accommodate a freestanding altar. The feel here was very much of a sanctuary that was incomplete and somehow unfinished.

It was within this context that William Heyer Architect was brought in to work with the parish to help resolve this. A full-fledged restoration of the historical sanctuary was not on the books, but what was accomplished within the parish's available budget was quite impressive nonetheless:

First and foremost I would point you to the reredos which now sees the tabernacle restored to it. Gold leaf was applied to the reredos to emphasize its gothic ornamentation and statues were restored to the niches.  The existing freestanding altar was also refinished in a way that brings greater stylistic harmony between it and the reredos, thereby giving the two a greater visual unity.

To either side of the central altar, new side altar like shrines to Our Lady and St. Joseph were installed. I would also note to our readers that the sedilia (i.e. the priest's chair) has now been put back into it's traditional orientation in relationship to the altar. (I would also take a moment to note that at an earlier point the rather garish speaker that 'crowned' the main sanctuary niche was removed,  thereby revealing the beautiful ornamental details behind it.)

What is particularly noteworthy about this project, however, is the painted work that decorates the sanctuary and in particular the apse. These took their inspiration from Pugin and others. The effect this creates cannot be overstated, adding not only an element of ornamental beauty that was missing, but also giving emphasis to the altar and reredos.

Here are a couple of closer looks at the painted work:

Very nicely done on the part of the parish and William Heyer Architect.

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