Tuesday, April 28, 2009

St. Adalbert's Church - Cleveland, OH

St. Adalbert's Church is probably the most under-rated piece of church architecture in Cleveland. Dedicated in 1912, at a cost of $60,000 (approx. $1,500,000. today) it is the quintessential neighborhood church ... humanly-scaled with interesting style. Defined as modified-romanesque, St. Adalbert's is best appreciated in person. 

Designed by my favorite church architect, William P. Ginther, St. Adalbert's twin-sister can be seen at St. Joseph's Church in Ashtabula, OH.  Apparently, Mr. Ginther, a very prolific church architect from Akron, OH, would re-use a design ... but never more than two times.

St. Adalbert's is scheduled to close in 2010. My hope is that another congregation will take over this gem.

St. Adalbert's Church | 2347 East 83rd Street | Cleveland, OH 44104

Monday, April 20, 2009

Can These Maserpieces Be Saved?

Cleveland architectural historian, Steven Litt has an excellent article on Cleveland.com titled "Closing of Catholic churches raises an urgent question: Can these masterpieces be saved?". Midway down the article, there is a section where you can upload a photo of your church. Awesome idea. The spectacular photo above (one of 10 taken by Mr. Litt for the article) is of a "sail vault" that appears in the side aisle of St. Ignatius of Antioch's Church. It is named a sail vault because it mimics the form a square sail takes when filled with wind! Also notice that the arches in the church have have a reoccurring eight-pointed star, representing Christ's resurrection eight days after his death. This is why church architecture is so interesting to study! Older churches are filled with tons of meaning that is lost to most of us (including me) today. These buildings were meant to be read. They were meant to teach. Oftentimes, old churches are called "sermons in stone." St. Ignatius of Antioch Church is an amazing symbol in Cleveland architecture, and it is scheduled to be closed by 2010. 

Has our visual illiteracy kept us from appreciating our older churches? Is a box-like church sufficient enough to feed our eyes and inspire our hearts?

St. Ignatius of Antioch Church | 10205 Lorain Avenue | Cleveland, OH 44111

Sunday, April 19, 2009

St. Colman's Loses Appeal to Bishop to Stay Open

St. Colman's Church in Cleveland has lost it's appeal to the Bishop to stay open as reported in this article from the local NBC television station. I've been following the congregation and the arts community reaction to St. Colman's closing. On so many levels, I feel this should have been one of the churches spared by Bishop Lennon. 

Without a doubt, St. Colman's (above, photo from wkyc.com) is one of the grandest ethnic churches in the city of Cleveland. The exterior is massive and elegant. In a recent article from Cleveland.com, local architecture historian, Tim Barrett states ... "If you're not moved by it, I'm sorry, you better check into a hospital". And that's just the exterior! The interior is equally stunning. It represents the best of the best from that time period of community church construction.

Unfortunately, the Bishop of Cleveland was not moved by 3,300 hand written letters of appeal by the parishioners of St. Colman's.

In a non-related event this past week, a relative unknown -- an underdog if you will -- Susan Boyle went on national TV on "Britain's Got Talent and sang her heart. She was exceptional, much to the surprise of many in the audience, who at first glance deemed her a loser. She opened her mouth, and their jaws dropped. Her win has has become so symbolic to so many. In these rough times, it's important that the underdog win every so often. It says that HOPE is alive and well -- for all of us. 

In a sign of hope and real faith, Bishop Lennon could have let another underdog win -- the parishioners, and the architectural admirers, of the very grand St. Colman's Church.

St. Colman's Church | 2027 W. 65th Street | Cleveland, OH 44102

Monday, April 13, 2009

July 25, 2004

I remember the day well. 

It was Sunday morning, July 25, 2004. I traveled down to Carnegie Avenue to attend mass and photograph one of my favorite churches, by one of my favorite church architects (William P. Ginther) -- Holy Trinity-St. Edward's Church. The homily was very different that day. On that day, Father Bob announced that today would be the last mass in the building. And that after communion, he would be removing the communion from the tabernacle and extinguishing the tabernacle candle (see photo above)

The tabernacle candle is ALWAYS lit ... meaning that there is blessed holy communion (the body of Christ) in the tabernacle. In other words, Christ is ALWAYS in this building. At least, that is how it was told to me as a child.

Nothing can prepare you for the moment when you see a priest extinguish that candle. My heart sank. I had a lump in my throat. I had tears in my eyes ... as did all of the other people around me. Christ ... is no longer here. This building is NO LONGER a church. Like most significant loss, you are never the same.

In time, the Diocese removed all of the altars and stained glass windows. However, there is a NEW light at the end of the tunnel. The building was sold, and is in use by another congregation ... their name ... "4 Real Church".

A very thankful Amen.

4 Real Church/Holy Trinity-St. Edward Church | 7211 Carnegie Avenue | Cleveland, OH

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Taxman Cometh

Churches are exempt from paying property taxes until they are no longer used as churches.

Thus is the conundrum facing the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, and being discussed by Cleveland writer Michael Gill, in an excellent article in the most current issue of Scene Magazine. 

The fear is that the Diocese -- in a mad rush -- will be forced to tear down many churches in order to lower the tax burden on each property. Why? ... Because the taxes will be lower on a "land onlyversus "land and building" property. 

One of my favorite Cleveland Churches -- by one of my favorite local architects (William P. Ginther) -- is in real danger of the wrecking ball ... St. Adalbert's Church on East 83rd. (facade detail from the Scene Magazine article shown above). More on this very unique church by William Ginther in an upcoming post.

St. Adalbert's Church | 2347 East 83rd Street | Cleveland, OH 44104

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Once Grand ... Now, Abandoned and Forgotten.

In a previous post (March 22), I showed an image of the interior of the abandoned St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church in Cleveland, OH. I referred to this church as an "abandoned treasure." I had no idea of what a TRUE treasure this building was — until I was sent an old photograph of the interior. I breaks my heart that this once grand building has been reduced to its current state.

Other current photographs of St. Joseph's Byzantine Church can be seen here.

I am all for repurposing closed churches (restaurants, condominiums, art gallery) that have be left behind by their congregations ... Anything is better than this. 

Your thoughts ... ?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Perseverance: St. Leo's Church - Columbus, OH

Closed yes ... but not really

St. Leo's Church in Columbus, OH. was closed by the Catholic Diocese of Columbus on July 1, 1999. However, that didn't stop a group of parishioners from taking over the building and keeping it open. They have created the St. Leo Preservation Society, a charitable organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the buildings of St. Leo Church and to further the charitable work of the parish. In addition to raising funds for the preservation of this wonderful building, they have created The St. Leo Parish Memorial Seminarians Endowment Fund. This fund provides financial support to seminarians. 

One of the goals in their mission is to "to educate the public on the importance of all faith communities and their buildings to a surrounding community."

St. Leo's Church | 221 Hanford Street | Columbus, OH 43206