Interior Restoration Project 1980 – 1983: 8,000 hours and 217 gallons of paint!

Saturday, July 2, 2022/Categories: History

As part of the restoration project, the oil paintings by Zukotynski were also renewed. The four round paintings of the prophets were affixed on new canvas and were coated with a polyurethane finish, and then mounted onto new wood backing.  The paintings in the nave were cleaned and sealed but were not removed.  The summer of 1980 was extremely hot. Joe Oswalt and his co-workers often worked during night-time when the temperature at the ceiling was more tolerable. The project required moving scaffolding a total of 18 times. Parishioners pitched in as needed to provide the labor; many parishioners helped clean as there was much plaster dust. The project was described in a variety of newspapers, including the St. Joseph News-Gazette, Kansas City Star, Topeka Capital Journal, and numerous others. The project was completed in January 1983. The cost was approximately $110,000; it required 8,000 working hours and 217 gallons of paint.

In an interview printed in the Seneca, Kansas Courier-Tribune Jan. 27, 1983, an article on the restoration reads: "The names Michelangelo and Rembrandt come naturally to mind when one views the interior of St. Mary's Church. The comparison between Rembrandt and George Satory, the artist who originally painted the lavish designs in 1901, is one that is easy to make for Joe Oswalt. “George was a master. You can see it in the articulate designs and in the color harmony and balance. We used more than 300 different colors to match his colors, and there are one-half million individual designs that all work together. That's what separates the Sunday painter from the Great Master. The master can make it all work together."

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