Progress for the Steeples Project

Photographing Johnstown’s Cultural Heritage

The Steeples Project churches

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.

The Grand Halle - St. Nicholas Feast
The Grand Halle – St. Nicholas Feast

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.

St. Columba's - altar mural
St. Columba’s – altar mural detail

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
SS. Casimir and Emerich's - transept from floor to dome
SS. Casimir and Emerich’s – transept from floor to dome

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.

You can contribute to the preservation of these beautiful and historic structures at The Steeples Project website or by mailing your contributions to the address posted here.

One thought on “Progress for the Steeples Project

  1. As a teenaged musician, I played in many of these churches as a sub in the late 80s and early 90s. I think these spaces are astonishingly beautiful, and one of the largest contributors to the area’s cultural heritage. Thank you for sharing these images – they bring back a time of discovery and devotion that continues to resonate decades later!

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