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George Satory Paints Interior in 1901

Saturday, January 22, 2022/Categories: History

In 1901 the church was decorated in such a fashion that would 79 years later be the cause for its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. "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." He used calcimine paint which was a mixture of zinc oxide, water, glue, and a color matter applied as a wash to the surface. The effect was the appearance of fresco painting but the paint was never part of the plaster and remained on the surface.

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, who 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 Church has preserved his work.



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