Thursday, July 10, 2008

St. Mary Catholic Church, Alton, IA

I began my annual trek to St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN today. Of course, I had to make a few stops along the way...

St. Mary parish in Alton, IA was founded in 1870 and the current neo-roman
esque church was constructed in 1908. Originally, the church had a clerestory visible to the exterior, however in 1941, because of water leakage, the roofline was extended to cover it. The original clerestory is plainly visible from the interior, as the darkened upper windows give evidence.A pamphlet at the church states that the interior of the building is 168 feet long, 70 feet wide at the transepts, and 43 feet tall. This same pamphlet also explains that

The magnificent stained glass windows, imported from Munich, Germany are estimated to be the largest square footage in any one church (about 2,300 square feet) in the United States.
As impressive as the artistic quality and size of these windows are, I am somewhat skeptical about this statistic, but that certainly does not detract from the beauty of the structure.

The church is also home to a rather jumbly looking Moller pipe organ (opus 7699, built in 1949) that was rebuilt at some point by "William C. Jackson, Beresford, SD."

I've been to this church many times before, however, I was in for a pleasant surprise this year - the interior had recently been renovated. This very nice warm, yet simple paint scheme is the perfect compliment to the architecture of the building.I will post some before and after pictures as soon as I can find some of the old one's I've taken.


Douglas said...

Regarding the most stained-glass square footage: I knew that couldn't be correct. I can think of several churches in the US that surely have larger window space- excluding cathedrals. The one that comes to mind is Heinz Chapel at the University of Pittsburgh. Modeled after the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris it contains 4,000 square feet. And this only popped into my head because Sainte-Chapelle was and is known for its unbelievable percentage of wall space in glass. Thank you flying buttresses!

Schultes said...

Alton --- that's my Uncle Mike Schnurr's parish; I was last there for Mass this past December. Part of the cluster with my grandmother's parish in Hospers, along with Granville.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful church and sanctuary!!! Did you ever find any before and after pictures of the interior? Thanks!

Chase M. Becker said...

I've just posted some before and after photos of the renovation. Sorry it took me so long! Enjoy!