The Next 100 years...
As we celebrate the chapel's 100th anniversary, we are reminded of our responsibility to protect and preserve this sacred treasure for generations to come. Below is a summary of the St. Francis Solanus Chapel Renovation needs. Each component of the renovation serves as a critical puzzle piece in the preservation of the chapel. Without foundational support, repairs made to the windows are in jeopardy of future shifts in the building's structure. Likewise, without roof repairs, preservation of the canvas artwork is at risk for water damage.
With sixty-two separate and distinct locations, there are a multiplicity of conditions requiring individual and specialized solutions for the restoration of the chapel's stained glass windows. The intricately painted stained glass windows are of a type that was done extensively from 1898 to 1940 called "The Munich Pictorial Style." The stained glass windows feature life-like painting on mouth blown full antique stained glass imported from Munich, Germany. The glass paintings featured on the original stained glass windows are actually created by metal oxides. These metal oxides, which are suspended in Acacia Gum and water or oil, are applied to the surface. Once applied the oxides are then fired into the glass at 1,150 degrees Fahrenheit (which is the melting point of glass) so that the oxides become fused with absolute permanence, never to fade or peel with time.
The past 100 years of varying temperatures, wind, rain and gravity have taken a toll on the windows, causing them to shift and buckle. Repairs are needed to protect the glass from further damage. This includes the repair/replacement of broken or missing stained glass, the replacement of putty on the perimeter of each window, and the installation of reinforcing straps to windows to prevent bulging.
Interior Repair and Restoration
Fr. Tom Brown, OFM, redesigned the interior of the chapel using the Byzantine style in 1954. Features include a golden half-dome with a painting of Christ the Pantocrator, a frieze of seventy saints which encircles the church on the entablature level, and gold and blue stars that adorn the memorable blue backdrop.
The restoration of the interior of the chapel requires plaster and structure repair to the walls, ceiling, columns, and original moldings; and careful preservation and restoration of hundreds of religious paintings found both on plaster and canvas surfaces. In addition to the cosmetic repairs needed, the infrastructure is over fifty years old and requires extensive modernization. Upgraded plumbing, including a fire protection system, and electrical and lighting systems are needed to ensure the chapel is safe for worship.
A Musical Tradition
The loft features a two-manual, seven-rank Wicks pipe organ built in 1950, replacing the original instrument installed in 1912. The organ is in need of new pipes and wind regulators to be restored to a fully functioning state. To further enhance liturgical rituals, the installation an electronic digital carillon, designed to mimic the exact sound of Cast Bells, is planned. The system will restore the bells to the chapel for hour strike, liturgical bells, and seasonal music. In addition, music and liturgical services will be further enhanced with the installation of a much needed sound system.
Exterior Repair & Preservation
A specialty roof made of Bangor slate represents the most critical and costly need for the chapel renovation project. A new roof will stop damage to this historical treasure and allow preservation efforts on the interior of the chapel to take place without future threat. Exterior repair is needed for exterior walls, windows and exterior openings in addition to waterproofing and the installation of a perimeter subterranean foundation/footing drainage system.