UPDATE, Nov. 12 — Steve Roy and his assistant are here from New York, and well into the work of restoring the brass.
Our sanctuary is full of ancient brass work, much of it memorializing parishioners long dead. Most magnificent are the grand eagle of the lectern and the ornate symbols of the four evangelists in the filigree around the pulpit. Those are memorials to the families of William Preston Johnston and of Col. William Gilham, two men who taught, respectively, at Washington & Lee and VMI.
The lovely brass work throughout the chancel has grown tarnished and in some places, such as in the feathers of the eagle, clotted with Brasso that should not have been used. For about two years now, Woody Sadler and Mo Littlefield have been quietly researching how to restore and save this legacy in brass. They have been working with Steve Roy, the New York-based master of brass artwork who has restored the bronze statues of Cyrus McCormick, Francis Smith, and “Stonewall” Jackson on our neighboring campuses. Woody and Mo have secured an $11,000 matching grant from the Gadsden Trust, a $5,000 grant from a Virginia-based family foundation called the Titmus Foundation, and enough pledges from several other parishioners (one of them my generous mother-in-law Avis Waring) to reach the $22,000 that Steve Roy originally bid two years ago.
The work is not only cleaning and restoring, but also adding a finishing lacquer that should keep the brass as bright as new, never needing polish again. This means the brass will be gorgeous and radiant for at least the remainder of this century. . .unless someone tries to use Brasso on it. Note to Future: Please don’t put polish on it, ever. That could ruin the finish.
Steve Roy was looking over the brass recently with Mo and me, to come up with a new estimate. Before, he wanted to take the brass up to his New York foundry. This time, he’s looking at setting up a tent outside the church for a couple of weeks to do the work there, and perhaps segment the work to give us options to keep the cost down.
In any case, we should have some radiant brass by Christmas. Laus Deo!
- Doug Cumming