Recently, Connecticut Stone had the incredible opportunity to work alongside Rick Zini of Doyle Coffin Architecture, Father Paul Murphy (Pastor), Building Committee Chairman/Project Director, Robert Gartelman, and Martany Tile to renovate and restore St. Thomas More Parish in Darien, Connecticut. Over several months, we were able to help the church make their vision a reality by reconstructing and restoring various parts of the existing building — all in time for the church’s scheduled consecration.
Built in 1972 and dedicated in 1973, St. Thomas More Parish needed a major overhaul. Because a large portion of the barn-like structure was built on wetlands, a total rebuild was out of the question. Initially, there was also a very limited budget for this project. It was determined that the most cost-effective and practical option would be to redesign and remodel. Ultimately, the church was able to raise $6 million to fund this project.
The church and its building team reached out to our team at Connecticut Stone because of our long-standing reputation for quality stonework and craftsmanship. The church was also looking for a stone professional with the proper knowledge, experience, and resources to properly engineer and restore various pieces from the original building.
One of the most significant undertakings for our team at Connecticut Stone was to restore a marble altar that Father Murphy rescued from a church in Philadelphia. Donated initially in memory of Edward d’Invilliers, an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania, this remarkable 90-year-old altar was commissioned in 1930 and cost $2,375. It was in need of significant restoration, including shaping and hand-crafting new mosaic pieces in antique marble. The team at Connecticut Stone appreciated the opportunity to breathe new life into this historical piece, ensuring that its beauty will be preserved for generations to come.
Meanwhile, Connecticut Stone was also tasked with constructing the ambo, baptismal font, nave, sanctuary, altar, and various statue bases in marbles and quartzites hand-selected by Father Murphy. We also crafted a remarkable 21’ tall custom arch in beautiful Taj Mahal quartzite that adorns the altar.
There were many challenges unique to this project, starting with the complexity of the pieces that we restored or crafted from scratch. Unique geometric shapes, custom edge profiles, and intricate restoration required the skill of our most talented craftsmen. Our challenge was balancing quality and precision with speed as the church was set to be consecrated by a specific date; as a result, individual pieces needed to be done and brought to the church in time for the blessing.
Ultimately, our experience in restoration work and custom stone projects made it possible to meet these tight deadlines while working alongside our industry partners. We were also able to coordinate with the architect and installer to ensure that everything would be finished in a timely manner before the scheduled consecration of the church itself.
Once the restoration work was done on St. Thomas More Church, the church had its insurance company come through and was informed that the restoration work done on the building was priceless. We were also told that the marble altar would not have been salvageable without the knowledge and experience that our professionals brought to the table. Our team at Connecticut Stone is proud to have been a part of this one-of-a-kind project; we have thoroughly enjoyed seeing this building transform into a thriving church that continues serving its community today.
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