Before and After: St. Joseph's in Leavenworth, Kansas

It has long been our contention that a little bit of colour and pattern can go a very long way in terms of beautifying a church -- and by the same token, its removal and/or absence can also go a long way in making a church rather more mundane that it might actually need to be.  Colour and stencilling of the sort we will discuss today were of course common in the medieval period, and in an era of smaller congregational sizes, not to mention plenty of new world neo-gothic revival churches in need of beautification, it is an option that presents itself as an entirely achievable one for a parish. 

One such project was that undertaken by Ecclesiastical Studio and Sons at St. Joseph's Church in Leavenworth, Kansas. 

This particular project was not an instance of a momentous renovation that modified the very fabric of the church. Instead it was one primarily of the application of some colour and design to the same fabric, most especially the vaulted ceiling as well as some of the walls and capitals of the columns. 

As usual, let's start with our "before" where we see that the ceiling had been painted over in a pale blue, while the walls themselves have been quite literally white-washed.  (Previous to this, the church was covered in colour and pattern, but regrettably the historical photos was have of the "before the before" are too blurry to effectively show here). 


This next 'before' shows the church with the scaffolding going up for the work in question, but it will give you a better sense of the overall picture. 

At this point we saw a very nondescript, rather cold and uninspiring setting, and while it certainly made the reredos of the altar stand out, it comes across as out of balance as there is too much a gap between the ornamental detail between the altar and the rest of the church. One can tell that this is not how the original architect and artists would have designed and envisioned the church.

So it was then that the project that was undertaken sough to restore some of the balance, thereby restoring the architectural harmony and integrity of the church.


One will note that the apisdal walls were also set into a different colour such that it helps to emphasize the sanctuary from the rest of the church. Further, where side altars previously would have been, this colouring has been extended in part to these parts, thus transitioning us from the high altar, sanctuary and into the nave. 

Some further details:

All around a project that has successfully united the parts to the whole while also giving greater beauty to the church all around.

For more information, please visit Ecclesiastical Studio and Sons' website or see them on social media

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