St Peter Parish History (Page 3)

Physical History Other   physical   enhancements   would   take   place   at   St.   Peter’s   in   the   late   19 th    and   early   20 th    centuries. Under   the   direction   of   Father   Dennis   Savage,   in   1881-82   the   church   was   enlarged   by   25   feet   along the   front   of   the   edifice   and   the   towers   were   added   to   the   structure.   This   addition   to   St.   Peter’s Church   could   very   well   explain   why   the   front   steps   facing   Lawrence   are   almost   vertical   and   end   at the   street.   It   is   evident   that   this   expansion   had   a   very   little   space.   The   church   complex   was   very much   blocked   by   other   structures   on   the   north   and   east   sides   and   Lawrence   and   Adams   streets   on the   west   and   south.   But   overall,   these   additions   only   enhanced   the   grandeur   of   the   church.   Father Savage   also   made   extensive   changes   to   the   interior   of   the   church   by   the   addition   of   new   altars   as well   as   installing   a   new   pipe   organ   in   1891.   This   organ   was   recorded   as   being   one   of   the   oldest   in the state and one of the finest built during that period. The   organ   was   a   Kilgen   model   built   by   the   Kilgen   Organ   Company   of   St.   Louis,   Missouri.   In   a letter   dated   1891   to   Mr.   George   Kilgen,   Rentzi Thomas,   then   organist   at   the   Presbyterian   Church   in Montgomery   said   of   the   organ   “...the   action   is   excellent   and   the   voicing   and   tone   all   that   could   be desired.”   (Church   Organ   Fund   Drive).   Not   only   did   the   sound   of   the   organ   gain   admiration,   the artistic   beauty   was   something   to   behold.   The   pipes   were   adorned   with   fleur-de-lis   from   top   to bottom.   The   color   pattern   consisted   of   blues,   greens,   red,   gold,   silver   and   bronze.   One   could   not help   but   notice   this   magnificent   instrument   that   provided   sacred   music   to   the   parish   until   the 1950's.   Mechanical   problems   finally   resulted   in   the   organ   not   operating   properly   and   its   being silenced after a very brief period on the 1960's. Finally,   in   1989,   under   the   direction   of   Monsignor   Kevin   Duignan   and   concerned   parishioners, action   was   taken   to   restore   the   organ   as   well   as   to   establish   an   endowment   fund   to   insure   the   proper maintenance   of   the   organ   and   provide   for   qualified   personnel   to   play   the   organ.   The   goal   for   the endowment   was   set   at   $200,000.00.   The   restoration   project   was   to   be   under   the   direction   of   M.P. Proscia   and   Associates   of   Bowden,   Ga.   The   fund-raising   and   the   restoration   was   proceeding   as planned   when   a   tragic   fire   swept   the   warehouse   in   Georgia   where   the   organ   was   being   restored. The May   17,   1990   fire   destroyed   all   of   the   organ   except   the   artistic   pipes   which   were   being   restored   at another   location   in   North   Carolina.   This   unfortunate   incident   would   have   seemed   to   end   any   hopes to   restore   the   grandeur   of   the   music   at   St.   Peter’s.   However,   it   was   decided   that   an   organ   of comparable   worth   and   size   would   be   sought   to   replace   the   Kilgen.   At   present,   the   endowment continues   to   receive   pledges,   and   there   are   positive   prospects   for   a   new   organ   to   grace   our   organ loft. Probably   the   most   enriching   symbol   of   the   interior   of   the   church   are   the   14   stained   glass   windows installed   in   1922   by   the   Emil   Frey Art   Glass   Company   of   St.   Louis,   Missouri   under   the   direction   of Father   Patrick   Turner.   Two   of   the   windows   depart   from   biblical   emphasis.   These   two   windows located   on   either   side   of   the   back   of   the   church   are American Army   and   Navy. These   were   probably Father   Turner’s   favorite   windows   due   to   his   service   as   Knights   of   Columbus   Chaplain   in   France during   World   War   One.   He   was   later   commissioned   in   the   U.S.   Army   to   serve   as   Chaplain   to   the 104 th  Ammunition Train (Catholic Week p. 53). There    is    conflicting    opinion    even    today    in    regard    to    where    the    stained    glass    windows    were manufactured.   Though   the   windows   representing   Biblical   themes   were   purchased   through   the   Frey company   in   St.   Louis,   the   fourth   window   from   the   entrance   on   the   right   side   of   the   church   not   only has   inscribed   at   its   base   the   name   of   Emil   Frey,   but   also   includes   these   words   "Munich,   Germany". Thus,   most   parishioners   argue   that   the   intense   color   and   beauty   of   each   window   could   only   mean that   the   windows   were   manufactured   in   Germany.   However,   Father   Turner   stated   in   a   newspaper article   that   he   was   convinced   that American   artisans   are   not   surpassed   by   Europeans.   The   article   in which    this    statement    was    found    dealt    with    the    dedication    of    the    stained    glass    windows. Unfortunately,   there   is   no   official   documentation   to   solve   this   friendly   disagreement.   Regardless   of where the windows were made, the church was greatly enhanced by the beauty of each window. Through    the    years    many    other    physical    improvements    were    made    to    the    church.    The    most significant   interior   changes   came   after   Vatican   Council   II   (1962-65).   With   decrees   from   the   Vatican Council   II   Committee   on   the   Liturgy,   renovations   were   mandated   to   the   interior   of   the   church   to insure   proper   exercise   of   the   liturgy   in   the   post   Vatican   II   Church.   As   a   result   of   these   mandated liturgical   changes,   the   altar   railings   were   removed   as   well   as   the   excessive   amounts   of   statuary found   in   the   sanctuary   of   the   church.   The   beautiful   and   ornate   altars   remain   as   a   testament   to   the unique and traditional beauty of the church. Next Page