Thursday, January 22, 2015

St. Paul's Cathedral - Church Architecture

      Last week I was out of town on a business trip in Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota.  It was my first ever business trip, so I kind of felt like a kid at Christmas.  I was so excited to see a new place, since I've never been to MN, and experience new things.  I did a variety of things from attending the conference, going to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, exploring the city on foot (while definitely bundled up), and ordering my first ever room service, but my absolute favorite thing I did was a brief architectural tour of the Cathedral of St. Paul.
The view from my Hotel Room
       The nerd in me, sat there listening to the tour guide while taking notes on my iphone - had anyone looked at me they probably thought I was being disrespectful and texting someone while I was in a church, but I wasn't I swear!

        The history of this gorgeous church is so amazing, here's some of the things I learned:
The High Altar
   This Cathedral was the 4th Cathedral to be built in St. Paul, it was built on a hill known as the hill of St. Anthony, now it is called Cathedral Hill.  The architect was Emmanuel Masqueray who helped with the Worlds Fair in St. Louis, the Bishop loved his style and told him that he wanted to build a Cathedral.  After further conversations Masqueray moved from New York to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area to be able to design and build the Cathedral.  His influence is seen in various buildings in the area.  He originally thought it would take 1.3 million dollars to build, it ended up taking 1.65 million.  It took 9 years to build, the interior floor of the Cathedral was done in Travertine marble, but the Bishop was very upset when he realized that they had only put the nice travertine in the aisles and not throughout the entire church and where the pews were going.  He made them pull out the flooring they had put down and put travertine everywhere.  The Bishop wanted the first mass to be Palm Sunday 1915, but they warned that since the travertine has just been laid that it wasn't ready for that much traffic and weight, the Bishop said it would be fine.  He was wrong.  The travertine settled unevenly and the pews and floor undulates like waves - that wasn't the design.  Now it is part of the character of the Cathedral. In 1915 the structure of the Cathedral was finished but they were out of money and the interior was completely plain and empty.  It would take another 45 years to truly complete the interior of the church due to WWI, the depression and WWII.  In 1915 it was the 3rd largest Cathedral in the US, now it is the 4th largest.  37 different marbles were used in the construction.  The Interior is 187ft tall, which for perspective means that if the Statue of Liberty - the copper statue, not the base she stands on, were place in the center of the Cathedral there would still be 15' from the top of her head to the ceiling.  How incredible!

Choir Loft - with an incredible Organ
Beautiful Rose windows
The ceiling of the largest dome in the Cathedral
     I truly find Church Architecture to be absolutely amazing!  The details, plans, revisions, struggles and stories all help to create this incredibly rich history of this Cathedral.  Details that most people would never think of, or understand why it was used in the church.  One example of this excellent foresight and detail by Masqueray was the use of limestone on the interior walls.  Marble is used for the first 7 feet and then the rest of the walls are limestone.  To the naked eye, one would think that they ran out of money, but it was part of his design from the beginning.  Limestone has a lot of holes and imperfections in the stone, which help with the acoustics of the Cathedral, so that the sound doesn't echo and bounce off the walls.  
      If you ever get an opportunity to go to Minneapolis/St. Paul - I'd highly recommend stopping into St. Paul's Cathedral and appreciating the architectural magnificence and beauty of this Cathedral. I certainy


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