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2 wooden churches being restored through 'Twin Steeples' art project in Ponchatoula
PONCHATOULA - Work is underway in the unique tiny town of Ponchatoula, where two centuries-old churches are in the process of restoration. They are being turned to face one another.
The churches are the two oldest wooden churches in the town and only two of three wooden churches in Ponchatoula. The unusual position comes from art and tradition.
With an artistic background, businessman and photographer Harry Gabriel decided to take on the project to add a landmark of history and give an artistic space to his community.
"He had all these plans to move this Presbyterian church to here and to turn that one around and build a big courtyard in the middle and turn it into a creative art center," business partner and close friend of Gabriel's, Kim Zabbia, said.
The project, called Twin Steeples, is the first art center of its kind in the strawberry town. Gabriel planned to use the churches to display art, music, and dance, hoping the building would leave impressions on others as it left on him.
"This is the same church where Harry went to school and rang the bell with brothers and sisters," Zabbia said. "And that's the last thing Harry saw before he died."
Gabriel passed away this year after an 18-year battle with cancer. Zabbia said the Twin Steeples are Gabriel's way of repaying the town he was raised in.
"He wanted to leave something for the community, and he wanted to give back to the community. He had been in remission from his cancer for 16 years, so we really didn't expect the end to come so quickly. He was like a walking miracle, so this is now his legacy," Zabbia said.
When completed, the two churches will sit face to face, stripped of their paint and decorated with art that the group hopes to inspire and entertain the town of Ponchatoula for years to come.
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