St. Mary's Church, a repository of art

Wednesday, April 22, 2020/Categories: History

St. Mary's Church is best described in these quotations from the nomination form in 1980 to the National Register of Historic Places: "The architectural style can be termed 'late Romanesque'; the exterior appears simple but not stark; it is carefully detailed, not overworked . . . Coursed ashlar masonry of vernacular tawny-buff limestone comprises the foundation, walls, and bell tower . . . It is pitched-faced, and dressed squarely at building corners ... Some 'white' limestone is used in a few special applications."

The church measures 162 by 60 feet. The steeple rises 172.5 feed above the water table. The church has nearly 3,000 square feet of window space consisting of 17 large windows, two of medium size and six round windows, each six feet in diameter. Some of the windows are of intricate designed art glass, and some are stained glass, a process in which the glass is painted and then fired until the paint fuses to the glass. The large widows, about six by twenty feet, "consist of two tall arched sections holding a rosette, all lead glazed and framed in wood roll molding." Twelve stained glass window sections in the transept are dominated by hues of ochre, amber, azure and crimson, and depict 12 hand painted saints. These masterpieces were crafted by Mayer & Co. of Munich and New York, as the signature on the southwest transept window states. The cost was $400 each, for a total of $2,400. Other leaded glass windows were made by Wm. Hoehne, Ornamental Glass Co. of St. Louis, and cost $165 each.

The National Register nomination form continues: "In marked contrast to its rather simple exterior, what happens within this building is a superb example of spatial enrichment by decoration and ornamentation.” Vaults in the center and side aisles are 52.5 and 35 feet high respectively. Eight cast iron, four-lobed, fluted columns made in nearby Seneca bear the roof and vault loads. "the church's chromatic, figural and textural quality rests mainly in three areas: wall painting, plaster-of-parish sculpture, and leaded colored glazed."

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