Conrad Schmitt Studios' design rendering of the Cathedral interior.

This past Sunday, the parishioners of St. Mary Cathedral in St. Cloud, Minnesota celebrated the completion of an interior renewal project that began nearly five months ago. The work consisted primarily of an entirely new paint scheme, the replacement of a worn floor, and restoration of pews.

The interior of the Cathedral as it appeared prior to refurbishing.

Construction on the Romanesque Revival building was completed in 1931 and later designated as the Cathedral of the Diocese of St. Cloud in 1937. Prior to the refurbishing, the interior of St. Mary’s represented a mix of artistic approaches resulting from previous renovations in 1959 and 1980.

The interior of the Cathedral as it presently appears.

Conrad Schmitt Studios created a new color and design scheme that would better harmonize the architectural details of the original structure with the newer liturgical furnishings that were designed by Frank Kacmarcik, OblSB in 1980. The new granite floor of the nave is especially effective in unifying the space by drawing together the original granite pillars and the newer granite sanctuary furnishings. (St. Cloud is in the middle of the largest granite producing area in Minnesota, in case you were wondering!) A more detailed account of the Cathedral’s refurbishing project is available from the St. Cloud Times.

The interior of the Cathedral as it appeared prior to refurbishing.

While the blogosphere abounds with drastic “before” and “after” photos of church renovations, the St. Mary’s project is worth noting because of its sheer reasonableness. There were no major structural changes, nor any rearrangement of liturgical furnishings. The project tackled by the Cathedral Parish represents a situation that most parishes face: how to address a worship space that is simply looking a bit tired and dated.

The interior of the Cathedral as it presently appears.

What do you think? Did the St. Mary’s project effectively unify visual elements from different eras? What is the best way to address older, previously renovated church buildings that aren’t looking for a wholesale historical restoration? Have you been involved in any similar church renovation projects?