Gilding the Lily
As the Liturgical Architecture Committee began its work last year, it attempted to envision the scope of the Chancel Improvement project and naturally considered restoring the extensive border polychrome painting around the nave. This undertaking, along with pointing the wooden ceiling, even painting the entire nave and gallery, cleaning the stone on the trusses, and replacing the pews were set aside as beyond a reasonable budget. Painting the nave was blessedly restored to the project by popular demand to a wonderful result, and a revealing of the 1883 border of a stylized passion flower design on the reredos wall of the Chancel proved too tempting to ignore as a possible off - contract endeavour. The Committee fortuitously sought advice from Historic Lexington Foundation (HLF) for possible funding sources.
The HLF Executive Committee seemed charmed by the idea and suggested that their Lyle-Simpson Preservation Fund might be a funding source for their Board to consider. Interestingly, the ashes of Pamela Hemenway Simpson rest in our Columbarium with her spirit overseeing the project. The Committee arranged for collaborative meetings between the gifted Sonny Harlow of Lynchburg who provided magnificent specialty painting to St. Paul’s Church there and Randy Wingfield of City Wide Decorators of Richmond, K+L’s painting subcontractor, who proposed a plan for stenciling the border only along the reredos Chancel wall (approx. 24 linear feet) at this time. Pat and Keith Gibson had already measured detailed drawing tracings in preparation for the cutting of mylar stencils. A not-to- exceed $15,000 budget was developed to accomplish this ancient form of religious ornamentation in a labor intensive process requiring exacting planning and skill. A grant application was submitted to HLF.
An informative, convincing brochure was expertly created and the HLF Board held its August meeting at Grace Church including a briefing by Buster Lewis and Pat Gibson who pointed out that supporting a preservation effort at one of Lexington’s finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture with such distinctive features as the High Victorian Gothic painting around the reredos Resurrection window and the handsome memorial brass communion rail was tailor-made to be celebrated in fulfillment of HLF’s mission.
The HLF Board approved the grant request, and Grace is honored to have the Historic Lexington Foundation’s enthusiastic participation as a partner in significant preservation of this holy place.