by Scott Grove
shows potential for
Tackling work to revive
a historic church requires
a multitude of skills
and creative solutions.
About 35 years ago, a client- sasked me to reproduce a carved historic element hat had deteriorated and
fallen off the façade. I gave him my
usual answer, “Yes!” even though I
wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. At
first I was a bit intimidated, but then
I became intrigued. I have a unique
skill set as a woodworker, sculptor, and
artist, and I knew I was up for it.
I’ll share a few tips in the restoration trade and use my most recent
project as an example.
Our Lady of Victory
When a Rochester, N. Y.-based architectural firm, SWBR Architects, was
involved with the restoration of the interior of Our Lady of Victory Church,
circa 1868, one of the oldest churches
in Rochester, they called on me to assist with some of the elements.
The church selected a world-
renowned liturgical restoration firm,
Granda out of Europe; the project
started with removing the altar
and shipping it to Spain where the
stripped, re-carved, gilded, painted,
and fully restored. The balance of
in-place architectural millwork with a
similar spec, was left to me.
Bidding the job
Four tall fluted columns with Corinthian capitals, two arched friezes, and
20 large 2-foot finials hanging on the
ceiling 25 feet up needed complete
restoration, and they wanted to save
as much of the original millwork as
possible. The church had had a fire in
1912 and the extent of the damage was
This split-view photo shows the Lady of Victory project before restoration on the right and after restoration on the left. A wide variety of skills and
experts were required to complete the project.