A Beautiful Structure

by Laurel | February 18th, 2012

18 February 1912

Skinner Chapel in Holyoke

The Finest of Work is There

Chancel and Organ in Skinner Chapel at Holyoke

Chancel and Organ in Skinner Chapel at Holyoke

Some of the Fine Points of the Gothic Edifice — The Carving — The Artistic Reading Desk

The beautiful Gothic chapel which was dedicated this past week as a memorial to William and Sarah E. Skinner, is an edifice which has been slow in building, but which in its every hidden stone or its delicate handiwork of carved wood, sculptured stone or stained glass, has been built with painstaking care and cunning skill. Gothic architecture in all its best qualities is that o this church edifice. The scheme, as in the Gothic cathedrals of medieval Europe is a general simplicity in the nave, the great richness and most elaborate work being placed in the chancel and apse. The eye is led naturally along the nave between the man tall columns and its eventual resting place is in the sanctuary. This has been the endeavor of the architects and they have succeeded well.

A narrow border of leaves has been sculptured in the stone on the side walls, running to the chancel, being lost there in a similar border which has been carved in the wood in the organ and is eventually brought into the furniture of the chancel.

The Reading Desk in Skinner Chapel at Holyoke

The Reading Desk in Skinner Chapel at Holyoke

In the rich colors of the stained glass windows of the apse and in the handsome carving of the furniture of the chancel and the screen with its sculptured angels, one finds the culmination of the beautiful work. Every detail brings one’s thoughts back to medieval times, and this is especially true of the reading desk. The figure of a scribe, which has been skillfully cut in bold relief on the front of the desk, with a canopy of delicate carving above him, has characteristics that readily carry the imagination back to medieval days. His features are those of a Petrarch or Erasmus. as they have been preserved to us in old paintings. An ancient scheme, that is pleasant as applied to this desk in its modern reproduction, is that of having the top revolve. In the ancient chapels the scriptures were on one side of this slanting stand and the psalter on the other, so that the priest revolved the stand as he wished to use one or the other. Gothic architecture is the esthetic expression of that epoch of European history when paganism had been extinguished, the traditions of classical civilization destroyed, the hordes of barbarian invaders beaten back, or Christianized, and assimilated. the end of the Dark Ages was at hand. The Catholic Church was then predominant and it was in its cathedrals and chapels that the Gothic architecture was largely developed. It is characterized by the ceilings, molded columns, windows of many divisions and foils, and intricately carved wood and stone by way of rich decoration.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

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