Last Saturday, April 18th, AIA Cleveland and the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America held the first in what I hope are to be a series of Tours that showcase the Cleveland Catholic Churches which will be suffering closings as ordered by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. Recently it was also announced that the appeals which had been filed by parishioners on behalf of their places of worship have been rejected with nary a structure spared.
I did a miserable job of catching everyone's name however listed on the flier that went about a week ago the tour was to be led by Tim Bennett. Whomever the speaker was did a rather fine job of keeping the discussion light enough for everyone in the audience and sprinkled in enough humor, history and gossip to keep our attentions sharply focused.
The churches were both quite beautiful and quite different and I imagine the merging of St. Colman's into St. Stephen's will be quite a shock (for those who had grown up in the grand open space that is St. Colman's) however perhaps the Gothic touches of St. Stephen's will counter with a rather fine and auspicious sense of wonder at the delicate balance of the the structure's graceful arcs and lines. Both buildings are quite beautiful and it was with heavy heart to sit among the throng and realize that even if I were to be an atheist, it would be difficult to not sense a greater purpose or being in a shrine such as these. They were garish in their ways, as most representations of true devotion are, but there was a noticable love in the care and craft and the intention of each item's placement that made amends for the decadent bauble and gild.
It makes the argument that we live among no great built works one hard to accept. It also adds a sting of biting remorse to acknowledging the undeveloped or undercooked "contemporary" design that has become our status quo, our "background" fabric.
When these treasures are stripped or their ornament (perhaps even are unfortunate enough to endure a dance with the wrecking crew) they will be gone forever and in their stead lay no certainty to worth or value, either as inspiration or as grace upon the eye. So I will look forward to the next tour, as an excuse to remember that great spaces can invoke a sense of wonder and awe, (as horribly easy as that is to forget).
I believe the next one is to be planned for early May 2009.
Labels: Cleve. Events, Design Rants