Refinished Pews a Blessing for Church

By Bill Esler | Posted: 12/15/2012 10:00AM

 

Wood pipe organ pipesA.R. Schopp’s Sons, a 100-year-old American pipe organ builder and the largest supplier of organ pipes in the United States is restoring the organ instrument almost to its original state.   For its centennial, a New York church - Our Lady of Refuge - set a goal of restoration, which meant refinishing 37 rows of solid oak pews, and beginning the rebuilding and restoration of its 1,800 pipe organ. How do such enterprises with meager pay for these great wood finishing and restoration works?

In the case of the oak pews, built 76 years ago (this is the church's second building) the original finish was scratched and worn fully away in places. In other areas it suffered water damage. Some sections were painted over in layers.

An estimate of almost $100,000 for the project was beyond the church's means.

The pews in Our Lady of Refuge had not been refinished in a very long time. The members of the parish have been asked to contribute to many projects to renovate parish for its upcoming 100th anniversary and they were maxed out in their donations. Two men came forward and volunteered to do the pews as a way of thanking God for the goodness shown them; the original estimate was $97,000. These men with a group of parishioners have been working almost every night for months to strip the pews down to their bare wood and stain and finish them. The pews are nearly finished and the work is almost done. The results are amazing – all because God provides – in one way or another.

Fr. Michael Perry
Pastor of Our Lady of Refuge

 In the case of the oak pews, built 76 years ago (this is the church's second building) the original finish was scratched and worn fully away in places. In other areas it suffered water damage. Some sections were painted over in layers.

An estimate of almost $100,000 for the project was beyond the church's means.

The pastor asked parishioners' help, and Fabian Cervantes, a carpenter/construction worker responded. His story is recounted in the New York Times today, telling how Cervantes, and his friend Sammy Cruz coordinated a team of volunteers who sanded and refinished the pews, toiling six days a week after work. The project continued for a year.

As author Sam Freedman describes it, Cervantes and his team worked relentlessly, taking off the outer layers of coatings and grime "with coarse 60-grit sandpaper, then 120-grit to level out the worst gouges, then 220-grit to smooth the surface for coatings of stain and shellac. The accumulated dust filled two garbage bags every shift."

The other project, the pipe organ, is being handled by fund raising and donation in kind.

The forest of wood and metal pipes on the historic Kilgen Pipe Organ and related works have been restored or rebuitl by A.R. Schopp’s Sons, a 100-year-old American pipe
organ builder and the largest supplier of organ pipes in the United States.

Quimby Pipe Organs will reinstall the pipe organ. As of June 2012, Our Lady of Refuge raised $184,000 in contributions needs another $44,000 to move forward with the re-installation, which is tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2013.

Joe Vitacco, chairman of the organ committee and Fr. Michael Perry, pastor of the parish, have used the internet and social media to raise a substantial portion of the funds from over 700 pipe organ enthusiasts from all over the world.

 

 

. There very well may be lots of open jobs in this field, but for a median salary of $19K, plenty of prospective personal care workers might opt to work retail – where the median salary for a sales associate is around $25K

 

About the Author

Bill Esler woodworkingnetwork.com

Bill Esler

Bill Esler, Associate Publisher/ Editor in Chief, Woodworking Network Bill is responsible for editing Custom Woodworking Business and coordinating content for Wood Products , CLOSETS , WoodworkingNetwork.com, and related newsletters. Bill’s expertise includes using innovative print manufacturing techniques to grow audience engagement, digital printing, purls, QR codes; and lead-generating webcasts, custom websites, and custom digital and print content. Read Bill Esler's woodworking blogs. He can be reached at besler@woodworkingnetwork.com or follow him on Google+.

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