Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Nashville Dominican Sisters' New Chapel

The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville have been undergoing tremendous growth in recent years, and have brought their new chapel almost to completion. The chapel was designed by the Washington DC firm of Franck, Lohsen, McCrery (www.flmarchitects.com) with interior appointments like the altar and baldachino designed by Granda Liturgical Arts. Many have known for some time that the joyuful prayerful spirit of the Nashville sisters has led to a great surge in vocations for their community, and now they have a new chapel worthy of the new springtime they are seeing in their community. A great sign of hope is not only that the sisters have built a beautiful chapel, but that they hired design architects who were classical specialists, not simply local architects who "play" classical or design "strip mall classicism." Even within the project, the difference in architectural knowledge can be seen between the literate sophistication of the architecture of the building itself and the "pretty good" design of the altar baldachino which departs some from proper usage of classicism. All in all though, a wonderful achievement. Congratulations to the sisters!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tour of Chicago Churches: SOLD OUT!

St. Ignatius College Prep has drafted Chicago's top church historian, Fr. George Lane, SJ to lead a bus tour of some fine Chicago Churches on the South and West sides of Chicago at 1pm on February 12, 2006 starting at St. Ignatius.

Fr. Lane is the President of Loyola Press, and the author of Chicago Churches and Synagogues, the seminal work of architectural documentation of Chicago's historic ecclesialogical architecture, as well as a consultant on the recent publication Heavenly City.

This tour sold out all 250 slots in a record 2 days. Now if the White Sox could learn how to sell tickets as fast as the Jesuits, our City Champions might be able to fill the bleachers with the Pale Hose faithful.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

So Clement IX wrote an Opera and it is coming to the West Side

Thanks to Daniel Mitsui at The Lion and the Cardinal for this notice.

The McKenna Ensemble PRESENTS

The American Premiere of the Baroque Opera La Comica del Cielo
Music by Antonio Maria Abbatini
Libretto by Giulio Rospigliosi/Pope Clement IX
Produced at the Roman Carnival of 1668
Cast of stars, Carol Lo Verde and Donna Sadlicka, Andrew Schultze,and Lawrence McCauley The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii1224 W. Lexington(700 S and 1200W) Chicago, IL
Sunday, Febuary 5, 2006 at 3:00P.M.

Reverend Edward J. McKenna celebrating the 40th Anniversary Priest, Archdiocese of Chicago with this performance.

The Shrine is awe inspiring, and who would have thought that Clement IX wrote and Opera that would someday be performed on the West Side of Chicago, in the heart of Little Italy?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Denis McNamara at University Club of Chicago

Denis McNamara architectural historian and a contributor to Society of St. Barbara, will be presenting his book, Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago at the University Club of Chicago tomorrow at a book lunch.

To register, call The Book Stall at 847-446-8880. The setting is Holabird and Root's University Club, very appropriate for McNamara whose PHD dissertation was on Holabird and Root's Chicago Temple, the Methodist twin to the secular University Club.

University Club photo Above, and its predecessor in design the Rylands Library in Manchester England below.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Kieckhefer at St Francis Xavier, Wilmette, IL

Mark your Calendars!

7:30 PM Thursday, January 26

Northwestern Professor, and architectural historian Richard Kieckhefer will be speaking at the Providence Room at St. Francis Xavier in Wilmette on the subject, Meister Eickhart. Eikchart was a Mystic in the 13th and 14th centuries who took his teaching out of the monastery to the laymen.

Two good resons to attend.

1) See a world renowned historian revving up a fully obscure subject in an entertaining manner. The price is right (free) and beer and pretzels are served.

2) The venue is the Chapel in the old convent at SFX, a well preserved structure no longer used for mass. The stained glass windows are outstanding, there is extensive wood carving, but the
altar (if I recall) is not longer in place. I think this is designed by Joseph McCarthy, the architect at SFX.


Interestingly (more or less) enough, I toured SFX, its campus (Barry Byrne School) and adjoining neighborhood with Joe McHale,-Joseph McCarthy's grandson-last week. We noted that the Convent looked very similar to the SFX Church. However we also noted that the neighboring Wilmette Women's Club and the First Presbyterian Church also look very much like SFX, though neither is attributed to McCarthy and Eppig.

I have been to a Lutheran Cchurch that was actually designed by Henry Schlacks, but not attributed to him, as he generally worked exclusively for Roman Catholic customers. He did fine work for the Lutherans as well. Schlacks is attributed to some buildings at (Lutheran) Concordia University in River Forest, though I have not seen them (nor the documentation).

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Sherman Park

Going back to St. John of God, here is a Google Earth shot of Sherman Park. SJOG is at the North End of the park, across (one way eastbound) 52nd street. The Park looks well-laid out from this vantage point. There is not much devlopment activity in this neighborhood.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Please welcome the Grayfriars to the West Side

The Society of St. Barbara would like to welcome Fr. Robert Lombardo, CFR to the Our Lady of Angels Rectory at 3808 W. Iowa, Chicago. Fr. Lombardo has undertaken an ambitious program of sealing the rectory, then adding a Daily Mass Chapel and Eucharistic Adoration to his facility.

The Church is in tact (and leased by the Baptists). The School and Parish center are battered, standing, and in use. The Parish Garden is in need of Springtime.

Are you on the West Side of Chicago for business or pleasure? Please stop by and welcome a Grayfriar this great Catholic facility. Fr. Lombardo a 1979 Notre Dame graduate, has enjoyed great support of the Notre Dame alumni in his mission to restore the Parish to this neighborhood. Lombardo has also welcomed other alumni (including the Fighting Illini) and volunteer groups, as well as of the hardest working contractors in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

St. John of God

Here is a clear picture (from James Morris) of the exterior of St. John of God in Sherman Park. Quite a splendid facility. The Church looks out over Sherman Park, which contains a top notch Public Library and Fieldhouse buildings. I am not convinced that books circulate at the Public Library nor that anyone has used the Fieldhouse in years.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Why Restoration?

I always feel like more is accomplished when there is a stunning photo of a John Mallin painting to show what happens when restoration is done properly.

Here is the ceiling at St. Jerome's in Rogers Park on the north side of Chicago. DiPrado did the restoration work in 2004.

The stunning portion keeps me from trying to describe this. My only description is that Mallin sure did a number on this in 1922.

St. John of God in Sherman Park, Chicago, IL

Today I toured St. John of God, the Henry J. Schlacks Church on beautiful Sherman Park in Chicago. SJOG, closed as a Parish for some fifteen years, has been most recently used as an athletic facility by Maryville Academy, the Catholic Childrens organization. Pardon my gnarled photographs. (I have more coming).

The Art Institute of Chicago had a lengthy study on SJOG, with ambitious (impossible?) proposals for alternate use (and not as a gymnasium) that I read through last fall. The building is well constructed, but per the ARTIC, was in danger of being demolished (it is not, unless it falls down).

Along with (very helpful) representatives of the Archdiocese of Chicago, I noted

1) The John Mallin paintings and Frescoes are about 75% in tact, and of museum quality.
2) The 3 visible altars are in tact and stunning.
3) There are some major water leaks in the towers and on the side buildings. The main chapel is pretty much dry.
4) The basketball court is not in use, but looks to have been a good place for a game.

The neighborhood (Garfield Park, though this is acutally Sherman) has take more than a few punches on the chin, but because of lack of new development has a sort of pristine nature to it. In my estimation, this is a restorable church.

St. Barbara, Patron of Architects

So what does it take to be the Society of St. Barbara.

Well, The Society of St. Barbara (and this blog) is dedicated to the restoration, preservation and construction of sacred architecture. You, the readers, are invited to comment, add pictures, and share information related to sacred architecture. The general focus is on the celebration of classic architecture, though modernity cannot be stopped and discussion will not be squashed.

Please feel welcome here. If you sign in, you have joined with the Society of St. Barbara, and enjoy all the rights and privledges of a paid-up member.

And yes, St. Barbara is also the patroness of Artillerymen.

Prayer to St. Barbara

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Oh God, who among the other miracles of Your power, have given the victory of martyrdom, grant, we beseech You, that we, who are celebrating the heavenly Blessed Barbara, Your Virgin and Martyr, may by her example draw nearer to you.