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St. James Episcopal Church drastically remodeled for first time in 125 years
BATON ROUGE - St. James Episcopal Church will look drastically different to its members after a wall-to-wall, floor-to-floor renovation.
A lot was done to preserve and restore the 125-year-old worship center, but the bright interior is the most drastic change.
Right in the middle of downtown Baton Rouge sits the iconic building.
Parishioners worked to preserve the timeless, historic beauty of the building in an intense, three-year-long renovation.
"I've never seen the brass that shiny in all of my 70 years," Margo Spielman said.
All in the details, the church also welcomes new wooden pews, shiny brass covers, and a new coat of paint.
"The ceiling! You can see all of the woodwork and the rafters and the delicate, intricate carvings," Spielman said.
The ceiling is one part of the church members could barely see before.
The Gothic Revival interior was dark and the lighting throughout the church was poor prior to renovations. This change is the most obvious.
The project focused on the interior after Hurricane Gustav damaged the roof in 2008. Recently, the mortar was replaced to help keep water out, but the interior was untouched.
Though the traditional look of the church is so special to many, some members are beyond thrilled for the changes.
Margo Spielman says she grew up in St. James Episcopal Church. She says she even taught kindergarten there for 25 years.
Spielman took some time Tuesday to get a first glimpse at her newly remodeled childhood memories.
"The beautiful windows stand out. It's so very beautiful, the colors in the windows," Spielman said.
A new lighting system was put in place to highlight the windows. The art form honors the traditional, gothic architecture. One that uses natural light to enhance the beauty of the windows.
Members can also expect refurbished floors dating back to 1895, a newly installed fire protection system, cameras, and an up-to-date drainage system.
It's a piece of art that Spielman hopes will be around for another hundred years.
The church will also install a brand new pipe organ in the spring. That is expected to cost around $900,000.
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