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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A GIFT FROM THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY: Brooklyns Grace Church Uncovers a Long-Hidden Celestial Treasure


Thousands of eight-pointed stars in gold, yellow and red were discovered during the renovation of Grace Church in Brooklyn Heights.


At Christmas, thoughts at many churches turn to a certain star

The ceiling was painted over in the early 20th century with a pattern of false wood, or faux bois.

A professional cleaning with sponges, rags, a little water and a gentle detergent brought the stars back to light.
The 165-year-old Episcopal church is undergoing a $5 million renovationAt Grace Church in Brooklyn Heights, thoughts are of a thousand stars or more. 
At Grace Church in Brooklyn Heights, thoughts are ofathousand stars or more.That’s how many long-hidden stars have been uncovered in the ceiling of the building, a 165-year-old Episcopal church at Hicks Street and Grace Court, under a $5 million renovation that includes a new copper roof, new insulation, new lighting, new wiring and a much-needed cleaning of many of the 3,200 organ pipes.
What had looked until a few months ago like a dull ceiling of plain wood planks turned out to be a dazzling celestial extravaganza of eight-pointed stars in gold, yellow and red — so lacy they might be taken for snowflakes — set in an expansive vault of royal blue.
A professional cleaning with sponges, rags, a little water and a gentle detergent brought the stars back to light. Now, the ceiling seems less a solid plane than an opening to the sky. Its crisscross diagonal braces form a delicate trellis through which the heavens can be glimpsed, as if one were standing in some great Gothic Revival arbor on a cloudless night.
“We were surprised to discover this long hidden splendor that had been waiting to be revealed,” said the Rev. Stephen D. Muncie, the rector of Grace Church. “The restored decorative ceiling and new lighting will lift our eyes — and souls.”
Grace Church was designed by the master architect Richard Upjohn, the confident hand behind Trinity Church on Wall Street. The first service was held at Grace in 1848.
In 1866, the ceiling and walls were painted in a brilliant array of colors and patterns, with a ribbon of biblical verses around the nave and chancel, such as this from Psalms: “Thy testimonies are very sure, Holiness becometh thine house O Lord, forever.”
This work was painted over in the early 20th century with a pattern of false wood, or faux bois, perhaps because the exuberant décor had come to be seen as a bit too riotous. The walls were turned government-office beige; the ceiling, lumberyard brown.
However, sharp-eyed parishioners like Margaret Ann Monsor sensed that something fabulous was lurking below the wood grain. The original decoration could still be faintly discerned. “Sometimes, if the sermon wasn’t gripping, I’d look up and see all this detail,” said Ms. Monsor, a leader of the renovation project.
EverGreene Architectural Arts, the conservation, plaster and decorative painting subcontractor to Grace, made a happy discovery: The faux bois was in distemper paint, a water-soluble combination of pigment, chalk, water and an organic binding agent...there is more:
Thanks to Dan Sloan, facebook
Thanks to The New York Times
Thanks to Grace Episcopal Church
Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America is a province of the Anglican Communion

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