Here is where the project stands today:
All the work has begun and we are projecting a completion date for late June in time for our patronal feast day June 24th: The Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. All of the subcontractors have mobilized and are at work on the project:
- The New HVAC System: the 90 ton chiller and two new air handlers have been installed and are up and running.
- Gatch Electrical has removed all the old ceiling light fixtures and has completed the installation of new wiring in the building. They will return to the project when it is time to install the new LED light fixtures.
- Data & Sound has already begun work on where the new speakers will be mounted on each of the columns going down the nave. There will also be a “loop system” that will enable people with personal hearing devices to automatically tap into the new sound system.
- The artisans from Conrad Schmitt have arrived and have begun the preparation work on the building and coordinating their work with the team from Rhino Environmental Services.
- The asbestos in the building will be treated concurrently with the plaster repair and repainting. The team from Rhino are removing the peeling paint and identifying where the asbestos abatement needs to be done. There are eight levels of scaffolding in the building and they have almost completed half of them. GEL Engineering is on site during the day testing the air quality as required by DHEC. The work is progressing well.
- Due to the delays with the building of the scaffolding and detection of asbestos in the building the completion date will be late June 2020.
Here are some updated pictures Monsignor Brovey took while up on the scaffolding the first week of February:
Below are a few pictures Monsignor Brovey took while up on the scaffolding. The first picture shows the side aisle arches and the second was taken from about 4 feet in front of the Last Supper window.
Below is a picture of the forest of scaffolding filling the interior of the Cathedral.
- The new HVAC system: the 90 ton chiller was installed on Thursday 19 September. The two air handlers have been installed and brought online.
- A company has been selected to install the new sound system as designed. As mentioned, the goal is for everyone in the Cathedral to be seated within 15-20 feet of a speaker by mounting them at “ear level” on each of the columns down the nave. We are also pricing the cost of a “loop” system that could be used in tandem with personal hearing aids.
- The scaffolding is going in and the plaster repair and repainting to begin soon. The scaffolding will be throughout the building and so the upper Cathedral will be closed during this time until the project is completed. More FAQs regarding the paint portion of the project below.
Thank you to everyone who has made a pledge to the capital campaign. Your generosity and sacrifice is making this exciting and important project a reality. The parish is taking on a debt of $1,850,000 which will be repaid through your generous pledges made over the next five years. If you have not yet made a pledge…. it’s not to late to join the effort to complete the project. More information on how to make a pledge can be found here https://charlestoncathedral.com/capitalcampaign2019/
FAQ’s regarding the long-ranging planning and the plaster repair and repainting of the Cathedral. If you have specific questions, please send them to Msgr. Brovey.
- What are the parish goals? The goals of the long range planning and future fundraising campaign are the following in order of priority based on parishioner input:
- Updated sound system in the Cathedral
- Replacement of HVAC and air handlers in the Cathedral
- Repair of damaged plaster, peeling paint and repainting of the Cathedral interior with a new decorative design
- Updated lighting design in Cathedral interior
- Any funds raised that exceeds the funding needed for above mentioned projects would be designated for the renovation of the parish hall and kitchen
- Why paint the Cathedral now? Right now, there is noticeable damage throughout the Cathedral interior, including peeling paint and crumbling plaster, especially at the ceiling ribs. If not addressed, conditions will continue to deteriorate, eventually jeopardizing the integrity of the building. It is our responsibility as good stewards to care for and maintain our historic Cathedral as befits the House of the Lord and the center of liturgical life of the Diocese of Charleston.
- What was the original color scheme and decorative design of the Cathedral in 1907, wasn’t it originally painted white? The current Cathedral building was designed by noted church architect Patrick Keely and was consecrated in 1907. The interior of the building remained unpainted bare plaster for many years. This “unfinished” look was uncharacteristic of Keely’s church designs. He designed many richly decorated churches and cathedrals throughout the country. It is speculated that, like the spire, the interior remained unfinished/unpainted due to lack of available funds upon the completion of the building. The first painting of the interior was in the 1950’s when it was painted white. The second painting was in the 1980’s when various shades of light blue were used (and when the air conditioning was first installed – thank you Bishop Unterkoefler!). The third painting was completed 25 years ago and is the current color scheme of grey with gold leaf.
- Why is the paint peeling? Conrad Schmidt Studios conducted a detailed study of the plaster conditions earlier this year as part of the Design Development process for the current project. Results of the study indicate that during previous repairs and painting campaigns, plaster repair was completed at some of the walls, but not the ribs, where today we see the worst peeling paint. Past water issues, including roof leaks and condensation issues, have led to deterioration of the plaster and paint.
- Will we need to re-paint the Cathedral interior in a few years? Now that the windows, roof and exterior walls have been repaired, the building envelope is secure. With water no longer entering the building, our HVAC system can function as it should, preventing the condensation issues which have contributed to problems with finishes in the past. With proper maintenance, high-quality finishes can last for many years.
- Why is the proposed cost of repainting of the Cathedral so much? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to paint the Cathedral interior white? The necessary plaster repairs require the erection of scaffolding throughout the interior of the Cathedral building. (This is one reason why the long range planning process concluded that it would a prudent time to update the outdated and energy inefficient interior lighting of the Cathedral while the scaffolding is erected.) Peeling paint must be removed and plaster patched at all areas of deterioration. Scaffold access, plaster repair, and surface preparation comprise approximately 80% of the project budget. Compared to the significant preparation required, the choice of finish colors has a minimal effect on the total project cost.