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Rituals of Dust





Rituals of Dust

It comes on slowly, occurring first at the murky edge of your reasoning, on the border of where the practical and the surreal meet. Your eyes gradually adjust to the darkness, and unseen details begin to emerge at the center of your vision and radiate outward. All the while your other senses are adapting as well - The scent of the stale air, the faint taste of the dust you kicked up upon entering, the sound of pigeons rustling upon the rafters high above. Eventually all these seemingly disjointed details sync up to form a strange yet perfect chorus, one that is equal parts beautiful and deeply haunting. This is the voice of the building, and it wishes to recount to you its story.

What you see today, standing before you in this historic district, is the end result of five years of work, spanning from 1855 to 1860. Though ages ago now, the product of those endeavors are no less impressive now as they were a century and a half ago. This church, though in the midst of a great hardship, remains as gorgeous in appearance as it is massive in size. The front-most spire, which stands over 230 feet in height, looms over the city which surrounds it. The carved limestone and detailed ornaments of its facade have come to be a trademark of the community. There seems not a soul who does not find this incredible house of worship breathtaking, but all the love in the world cannot keep the rot away.

Once inside your gaze immediately heads skyward, it's an almost involuntary response – The ornate and immense cathedral ceiling pulls it there. Angels stare back, their faces lit in multi-hued patters as the sunlight filters in through the stained glass. At one time they must have been beautiful, though they appear lifeless now. The same could be said of the grand hall of the church itself. It takes little imagination to picture it as it once were, full of people, music, life. Now it stands silent and empty, the sole congregation here in recent years being the pigeons who now roost on high. Each one that swoops down from overhead stirs up a grey cloud of their own filth which hangs in the still air for far longer than seems natural, slightly obscuring the chamber beyond in a dull haze. Murals remain illustrating scenes that, given their current setting, all seem far removed from any holy origins. As if the figures depicted therein were trapped here against their will.

Still, even in its current state, the church stands proud and grand. There is a flicker of light left here, buried under filth and neglect. It is weak but resilient, and can certainly shine brightly again if only given the chance. In recent history some much-needed work was done to stabilize the structure from collapse, but in the years since then any future plans for the building have failed to get past the planning phase. So it is that the old church has found itself cast into purgatory, awaiting a final fate to be decided by some higher power.





















Old stereoscopic image of the main hall











 

 


Service in the 1950's






Words fail.










View from the raised organist platform. 










Image from the late 1800's, showing the rear of the church.
The iconic front-most spire was added after 1900.











1904


After completion of the main spire.