St. Peter receives architecture award

By Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

Correspondent

October 24, 2013

St-Peters-Lindsay-WEB.jpg
The sanctuary of St. Peter Church in Lindsay is pictured here. St. Peter received an architecture award for its recent restoration and renovation project. (Photo by Michael McGee / North Texas Catholic)

More art historians may visit Lindsay now that St. Peter Church was recognized with a Preservation Project Award from Historic Fort Worth, Inc. One of the “painted” churches of Texas, the landmark is already listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.

Former pastor Father Ray McDaniel accepted the honor from guest presenter and author George Bristol during a Sept. 28 ceremony at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, located in Fort Worth’s cultural district.

The Romanesque Revival church, built by German immigrants in 1917, underwent a massive restoration in 2009-2010. Repairs were made to the original stained-glass windows, the tile roof, and interior walls. Conservator Lollie Twyman cleaned and preserved the church’s 32 oil on canvas paintings. Carpeting was removed in favor of wooden flooring, and the pews and altar furniture were restored.

When cracks first began spreading on the decades-old plaster, Fr. McDaniel thought the needed repairs were just cosmetic. Then it mushroomed into a $4.5 million total restoration.

“Over the years, the roof had leaked and the plaster began crumbling,” he explained. “The church is an artistic landmark, so it wasn’t just a matter of fixing plaster and brick. We had to put back the art that was placed on the walls in 1919. Architecturally and artistically, it’s a noteworthy building.”

The original wood-framed St. Peter’s, built in 1903, was destroyed by a tornado in 1917. Parishioners quickly rebuilt a larger, brick veneer structure inspired by 11th and 12th century German Romanesque architecture found in their homeland.

St. Peter in Lindsay was designed like other painted churches of Texas found in the Schulenburg area. Simple and unassuming exteriors belie the burst of breathtaking color waiting for visitors inside.

“Our church is much more vibrant, flamboyant, and ornate,” he said, referring to the sanctuary’s distinguishing trompe l’oeil folk art originally painted by Swiss immigrant Friederich Fuchs. “There’s hardly a square inch of wall that didn’t have some sort of decorative painting on it.”

Experienced artists were hired to touch up or recreate the fading patterns and religious symbols on the walls. The church is also known for its 80 stained-glass windows, the Stations of the Cross, and stylized panels of the life of St. Boniface (patron saint of Germany) which were painted by Dr. Mathias Zell, father of Father Bernard Zell who was St. Peter’s pastor from 1910 to 1923.

During the restoration, several stained-glass windows were removed and sent to Fosters in Bryan, Texas for releading. They were reinstalled with Lexan sheeting, a high-tech, clear, protective coating.

Completed in August 2012, the restoration transformed the interior of St. Peter Church from dull to high-definition. Fort Worth architect Arthur Weinman, who worked on the project, nominated the parishioners of St. Peter Church for the Preservation Award.

“The final result is St. Peter Catholic Church is once again the centerpiece of art and architecture in Lindsay, Texas,” enthused Jerre Tracy, executive director of Historic Fort Worth, Inc. after describing, in detail, the restoration work.

Current pastoral administrator Father Philip Petta is already seeing an uptick in the number of tourists stopping by to view Lindsay’s “painted” church. A Houston resident waited hours for just the right sunlight before taking photographs of St. Peter’s for a coffee table book. The author had visited hundreds of churches in Texas.

“He told me St. Peter’s was in his top three churches in the whole state of Texas,” Fr. Petta said.

St-Peters-Lindsay-BUTTON.jpgMore art historians may visit Lindsay now that St. Peter Church was recognized with a Preservation Project Award from Historic Fort Worth, Inc. One of the “painted” churches of Texas, the landmark is already listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Former pastor Father Ray McDaniel accepted the honor from guest presenter and author George Bristol during a Sept. 28 ceremony at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, located in Fort Worth’s cultural district.

Published (until 10/24/2063)