It was rainy and gray outside but it was bright and gleaming inside St. Paul’s Chapel, which reopened for Sunday services after more than two months of restoration.
“Go around and look at the monuments…you can actually read them now,” the Rev. Phillip Jackson told parishioners at the 9:15am service. The Vicar pointed out a few small areas that will be finished over the next several weeks, then introduced a new addition.
“A special guest back with us—he’ll be permanently here with us—that, of course, is St. Paul,” he said, pointing to the original St. Paul statue located in the southeast corner of the chapel. The statue, created sometime in the late 18th century, lived in the tympanum on the Broadway side of the chapel until it was taken down in August 2015 for restoration.
A resin replica of the original statue was “flown” into the tympanum earlier in the week so that “Old Paul” can remain inside. The original statue, made of tulip poplar, is thought to be one of the earliest examples of North American wood sculpture. More than 200 years in the elements have taken their toll, and keeping the statue inside will help keep it intact for artists, historians, and visitors to see up close.
Parishioners were glad to be back in the chapel, now painted shades of white and cream, which provides a home for a thriving family service, brown bag lunch distribution and other feeding opportunities for the food insecure, and fun community events.
“I love it,” said Keith Klein, adding he likes the new colors, which are believed to be closer to an 18th century color scheme. “I feel like we’ve reclaimed the chapel.”
But church is about more than the physical space, Klein said. “The services across the street were great...the congregation is strong and that’s what matters.”