Monday, December 13, 2010

Completion of Renovations at St. John the Baptist, Tryon, NC

A year and a half ago we shared news of a church renovation at St. John the Baptist Church in Tryon, North Carolina.

Here is what things looked like then:

BEFORE (2003)

AFTER (2009)

It was a substantial improvement then of course, bringing more colour, order and focus to the parish and sanctuary, but that parish renovation has continued on since then bringing even more dramatic improvements.

In a story in the current Dec. 10, 2010 issue of Charlotte's Catholic News Herald, "From Drab to Fab on a Dime", we are shown the following updated images of the parish sanctuary from 2010:

AFTER (2010)

Photo by Patricia Guilfoyle / Catholic News Herald

Photo by Patricia Guilfoyle / Catholic News Herald

As you can see, from the April 2009 photo to the present 2010 photos above, dark wood paneling has been added to the sanctuary which further sets off the altar, and which works in a more complementary manner with with the colour and stencilling of the church.

Of the renovation work, the Catholic News Herald notes that:

"Jacob Wolfe, 22, a lifelong member of St. John the Baptist ... has been working for two years on the renovation under the guidance of Father Patrick Winslow. Wolfe is studying furniture design at Appalachian State University in Boone, working on the church during the summers and breaks from classes.


Wolfe did most of the sanctuary’s wood carving, installation and staining. Wolfe and Tyler Grobowski, a friend who’s studying at the Savannah College of Art and Design, spent a summer high up on scaffolding painting the ceiling, Michelangelo-style. Actually, they painted the ceiling twice – Father Winslow, who Wolfe says has a gifted eye for color and form, thought the initial beige background color was too light, making the red and blue designs look garish. So they went back over it with a darker tan.


The renovation actually started in 2007 with the dedication of a massive new marble altar and the relocation of the tabernacle to the center of the sanctuary. The intricately carved altar, high altar and ambo replaced a simple wood altar that had been there since the church was built in 1962.

Parishioners raised $110,000 to fund the new altar, carved from four tons of red and white Carrara marble from Italy and featuring the baptism of Jesus by St. John the Baptist.

It wasn’t long before the parish started thinking about beautifying the rest of the plain white sanctuary.

The blue industrial carpeting was ripped up, revealing hardwood floors beneath, and the white- washed walls were given a faux-stone treatment.

Father Winslow obtained a used metal communion rail, and Saluda Forge in Tryon fitted it for the new sanctuary.

But the most dramatic changes were reserved for the sanctuary – above and around the altar, the white walls were covered in mahogany- and walnut-stained wood featuring pointed arches, gold lettering and the symbols of the church’s two patrons: a fleur-de-lis representing the Blessed Virgin Mary and a shell representing St. John the Baptist.

The fleur-de-lis and the shell can be spotted every- where: in the intricate ceiling paintings, in the ceiling arches. Father Winslow said his intent was to cover the ceiling with these symbols as a “mantle of protection” for the parish.

The focal point of the sanctuary, the crucifix, is set off by dark paneling in the shape of a Franciscan cross. Above it, a medallion with a gilded dove representing the Holy Spirit is inscribed with God’s words “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.”

The sanctuary is rich with symbolism – and all of the elements depict the story of salvation history, Father Winslow says.

He says the renovation project has also been a rejuvenation of the parish...

Read the entire story at the Catholic News Herald.

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A reminder to readers that we are always quite interested in your parish renovation stories. Do keep sending them in for our consideration.

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