the "New" Church

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columns.jpgFacade Detail

Tower1.jpgSouth Tower

front.jpgThe East End

bluorg.jpgThe West End

Altar2.jpgThe High Altar

anth.jpgSt. Anthony Altar

anthony.jpgSacred Heart Altar

Station.jpgStations of the Cross

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The "new" church, while not the largest in ground dimensions, is one of the most massive and striking in the area. The plan was executed by parishioner Peter Dederichs. His design combined facets of Pisan Romanesque and Venetian Renaissance to create a unique and beautiful structure. It was completed in 1885 at a cost of $81,210.53. The twin towers of the West facade are a very important part of the city landscape. Hidden above the portico is a gallery of pillars and two huge stone roses. These features come to us from a time when even "invisible" details were no excuse for less than top of the line work. The North tower houses 3 of the 1843 church's 4 bells; the largest being named "Ave Maria".
As one enters the church, one is immediately impressed by its magnificent proportions. It is Roman in style and cruciform in plan - the cross being seen to best advantage in the richly frescoed ceiling.
The organ in the West gallery is one of the finest instruments in the Mid-West. Beautiful polished granite columns, originally intended for the state capital building and purchased for the paltry sum of $4,625, divide the side aisles from the nave and support the walls of the main roof. These graceful monolithic shafts with their stone capitals give an air of simple richness contrasting with the more elaborate ornamental plaster decorations of the walls and ceilings. On the ceiling, at the center of the transept, is a fine painting of the patroness of the church, the Virgin Mary. The brilliant East end is the liturgical focal point of the church and contains its richest appointments.
Recently redecorated, the structure's interior dimensions are considerably emphasized by its cool shades of blue. The length of the church is 176 feet, the width of the nave 80 feet and the transept 116 feet. The ceiling of the nave at the center of the arch towers 90 feet from the floor.
The high altar was transferred from the original church and is a marvelous example of the wood carver's art. The South Sacred Heart altar is new. A faithful copy of the altar lost in the Good Friday fire of 1994, it proved to be so handsome that it was decided not to obscure this masterpiece with coats of paint. The execution and installation was completed by the Imlay City, Michigan firm of Williamson Fine Lumber.
The North St. Anthony's Altar exhibits the "softer" look that many coats of paint have given this finely carved piece. The wooden carved Stations of the Cross were added to the structure around 1907 and while they wear many coats of paint, the quality of their craftsmanship shines through. Before she gained the title "Old", St. Mary's was known for many years as the Church of the Grottos. There are three: the grotto of Gethesemane depicting Christ's agony in the Garden of Olives; the Baptismal Grotto depicting Christ's Baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist complete with running water; and the Lourdes Grotto which is a replica of that French shrine.