Photographing Johnstown’s Cultural Heritage
As reported in this morning’s Tribune Democrat, The Steeples Project continues to make progress in the preservation of the three Cambria City church structures under their care: The Grand Halle on Broad Street (former Immaculate Conception), SS. Casimir & Emerich’s, and St. Columba’s. It’s been my privelege to help support the Project through my photography, and to explore these monuments of Johnstown’s heritage in that pursuit.
Originally I showed up for an event or two, per the Laurelight mission, simply to add to the visual record of the region’s rich cultural experience. Then I was asked to provide photos of the windows, details and elevations of the buildings for the Project’s future fundraising efforts.
What a thrill this has been. I can’t begin to describe the emotions that swept over me as I stood in these now empty and silent, but never abandoned, churches, overwhelmed by the dedication, the craftsmanship, and the devotion of generations of our ancestors. At no time during my explorations did I ever feel alone. I was humming Mary Poppins lyrics to myself:
All around the cathedral, the saints and apostles Look down as she sells her wares; Although you can't see it, you know they are smiling Each time someone shows that he cares
It’s tough to pick a favorite church here. The elaborate interior brickwork of SS. C&E’s soaring to the domed skylights is impressive without being oppressive. Columba’s saturated stained glass and moving altar mural provide a visual feast wherever you look. And the Grand Halle, with it’s towering vaults, becoming one of the most popular event venues in the area speaks for itself.