Painting one’s living room is sometimes a challenge. A space as large as a Church with so many colors, textures, and finishes is even more so. The following is a background of the most recent renovation of our Church.
A parishioner Church Renovation Committee was established. Among its members were an architect, artist, church renovation consultant, liturgical art and environment consultant, and buildings manager.
The committee agreed upon three “givens” for the project.
The first was to maintain.
• Remain faithful to the design intent of the architect, McCarthy, Smith, and Eppig, in the late 1930s: High European gothic and clean line Chicago art deco styles. This firm worked extensively with Cardinal Mundelein and produced numerous Catholic churches during the Depression era 1930s, including another church in our Deanery, St. Mary of the Lake, and St. Bernardine in Forest Park
• The focal point is the sanctuary wall crucifix from Germany with wood throughout
• The jewels of the church are the stained glass from France and the Stations of the Cross from Italy
• All standing on the greens and whites of the sanctuary Italian marble and church tile floor
The second decision was to enhance.
• Replace the kneelers
• Move from the present yellow/ mustard/ beige/ gray palette
• Accentuate the band and inner shields circling the church between the upper wall and wood paneling
• Use gold accents to pick up gold inlays from the sanctuary woodwork
• The wall behind the altar crucifix: choose a color/ technique to enhance that large wood carving
• Restore the Stations and the chandeliers
The third decision: be daring!
Seeing recently renovated churches, go beyond whites, beiges, and light blue colors now prevalent. Four design and decorating companies were invited to prepare proposals and bids to the committee.
All companies presented fine designs and renderings. Fortune Painting and Restoration Company of Lincolnwood, IL was chosen because, along with their design, they were most able to undertake the complete scope of the project—from painting, to metal restoration, kneeler work, and electrical work as needed—at the most competitive price of $174,740.
Even after Fortune Painting was chosen, design refinement continued. Design suggestions from all decorating companies were reviewed by the committee with the best ideas taken from each. These ideas were taken to a design consultant specializing in the renovation of theaters and public buildings constructed in the same era as our church and to the first prize winners of the 1999 best U.S. hotel renovation project. The committee took the best ideas from these recommendations. Finally, three teams of historical art renovation students and their professors from the Harrington Institute of Design, later renamed the Harrington College of Design, took all recommendations and prepared three final proposals. The work now in progress is based mostly on one Harrington Institute of Design proposal with ideas taken from the other two. All these consultants worked on a pro bono basis because they were interested in the church and our work!
An explanation of color choices
The color on the large walls is salmon. It does not dominate any window color. It picks up small, light orange/ yellow veins in the wood. In daylight, it is light, cool, but not stark. In evening lights, it tones to a rich, light rose color. The gray in the stone of the windows provides illusions. It is meant to imitate the color of stone. Its shades makes the windows and walls look higher than the former brown stone color. When the sun shines through the colored glass, the gray recedes to a minor outline allowing the glass to dominate. After sunset, the gray steps forward, showing the strong outline of the window shape even in darkness.
A slightly lighter, darker cappuccino color in the window splays (walls on the sides and bottoms of the windows) frame the windows, subtly setting them apart form the larger salmon wall color. This same cappuccino color is found in the three foot band that circles the church, serving as a transition from the salmon upper walls to the lower woodwork walls and uniting the high windows to the lower walls.
The trim at the top and bottom of the band circling the church and its inner shield, and the carved rosette arch above the windows, the altar, and the organ loft were studied very carefully, The green, blue, and gold in these areas are the three primary colors in the stained glass windows, bringing these colors from the windows to the walls. The Stations of the Cross were polished. The magenta color behind the station figures is another dominant color in the stained glass windows, especially in the lower sections of the windows just above the Stations of the Cross.
The chandeliers and wall fixtures were restored. Lights on top of the four rear chandeliers were repaired, gently casting light up the chandelier pole to the ceiling and side walls.
Page last updated for accuracy: March 22, 2012