Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blog Post No. 2012-10: Sacred Heart Parish takes care of its physical assets...

...both sacred and profane

The Photos:

Photo 1: One of the church's interior stations of the cross, recently restored.

Photo 2: The restored exterior niche statue.

Photo 3: The repaired slate roof.

Photo 4: The re-sided rectory.

The Location: 169 Cummins Highway, Roslindale, MA (MAP)

Years of Urban Fabric Restoration: 2007-2012.

The Story: We're in Roslindale again, this time at Sacred Heart Parish. For those keeping score at home, we are also back to restorative actions similar to the May entry about Community Boating down on the Charles River. In this case, Sacred Heart has undertaken a series of repairs and renovations over a five-year period under the heading of "Project Slate." [You can see the pre-existing general exterior condition of the church and rectory in the google streetview available at the map link above.] The fundraising campaign kicked off in 2006, and in relatively short order, the necessary funds were gathered. Construction then began, first with, you guessed it, a new slate roof over the entire church building, followed by repainting of the interior of the upper church (like most urban Catholic churches built in the massive wave of European immigration of the second half of the 19th century, the church has both an upper church and a lower church which in an earlier era held multiple Sunday masses each), repointing the exterior brick work and the main exterior stairway, and re-siding of the rectory. After some additional fundraising and patience, the stations of the cross were also completely restored (after two were initially restored early on).

One relatively unheralded change was the removal of the old, badly-stained and unfortunate-looking plexiglass that covered the niche statue of Jesus with the Sacred Heart. As you can see in photo 2, that statue is now back in the open air with the heart itself painted red as is most common. Why and when the statue was encased in plexiglass is not known to your correspondent. But I will say that the removal of the plexiglass is one of those relatively small but highly symbolic events that cumulatively add up to an urban fabric that is functioning and telling its participants that there is confidence in the durability and significance of its various components. The restoration of the stations of the cross is another such action that means more than simply putting gold leaf where it belongs (though as you can see from Photo 1, it's an impressive piece of work). Again, I don't know why and when these stations were painted entirely white (which was their state just before the recent restoration). Yet they were, a poor decision whose reversal required raising relatively substantial funds just to have stations that express the artist's original intent. It's a cliche, I admit, but the cumulative urban fabric effect of Project Slate is greater than the sum of its parts.

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