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Furnishing the church

Wednesday, April 22, 2020/Categories: History

The church cost $40,000 and was paid for upon completion. Another $40,000 was gradually spent to finish the interior. In 1895 a used organ was bought in Atchison. Four bells weighing 3200,1800, 900 and 500 pounds were bought in St. Louis and blessed n July 24, 1895 by Bishop Louis M. Fink, O.S.B. The same year a large cistern was built for the heating system. A greenhouse was also built. It later housed the electric power plant and has been more recently used as a shop.

In 1899 the new main altar and it reredos, some forty feet high, was built and installed by Wm Bauhaus of Leavenworth, KS at a cost of $2700. "From its white oak base rises a richly molded and gilded system of orders, niches and pediments." In two niches are larger-than-life statues of St. Boniface and St. Patrick, representing the German and Irish makeup of the parish. (In 1899 there were 115 German families and 15 Irish). In addition, the main altar holds six more saints, four angels, and a large six by nine-foot oil painting on canvas of the Assumption of Mary. Below the altar table are three sculptures, tow by two fee each, with a total of thirteen figures in the three scenes: gathering manna in the desert; eating the Passover meal; Jesus breaking bread with some disciples.

In 1900 two gilded wooden sided altars more ornate than the main altar were bought from E. Hackner of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, along with a matching communion rail at a cost of $1500. "Both the main and side altars of the Gothic Eastlake school of design."

On September 7, 1900, Fr. Herman was succeeded by Fr. Anthony Baar, O.S.B., who continued the completion of the interior of the church. In 1901 the church was decorated in such a fashion which would 79 years later be cause for its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Again quoting from the nomination form to the National Register: "All wall and vault surfaces inside of St. Mary's are lime/horsehair plaster on wood lath, and all are base painted either cream or pale gray. In 1901 G. F. Satory of Wabasha, Minn., applied to this base many colors of painted patterns, bands and friezes. He used stencils -- delineating, floriating and illuminating of cast iron columns, vault ribs and bosses, and window openings. Indeed, every plastered surface in the church is so adorned."

Mr. George Satory decorated 150 churches across America from 1891 to 1931. In an interview with Mr. Satory in the St. Paul (MN) Sunday Pioneer Press, April 17, 1949, page 3, he regrets that his art form will be lost in America after he is gone. He said: "I know of no symbolic church artists left to carry on our work ... I think a church should be a thing of beauty, a work of art as well as a place in which to worship our Lord." In one of his advertisements Mr. Satory claims his work is "original in design and never duplicated." His nephew Edward Satory worked with his uncle for some years reported in 1980 at the time of the interior restoration of St. Mary’s Church, that as far as he knew, of the 150 churches Mr. Satory decorated, only St. Mary's preserved his work.

Working in cooperation with Mr. Satory in 1901, the Russian born artist Td. Zukotynski of Chicago decorated the church with 14 oil paintings. In the nave clerestory are six oil paintings on canvas six by nine feet depicting scenes in the life of Mary, patroness of the church. In the transept are four, circular oil paintings of the four major prophets, on canvas, six feet in diameter. In the apse above the high altar are three oil paintings directly on the plaster wall depicting faith, hope and love; the cross of faith, the anchor of hope, and the Real Presence of God who is Love. Surmounting the high altar is an oil painting on canvas six by nine feet of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. The artist's signature is on the painting on the left of the main altar. The total cost of both projects was $4100.


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