What a somber afternoon. If ever there was a day to think about saving our sacred sanctuaries, the treasures they hold and the connections generations of our families have had to them, today is that day.
On April 15, 2019, the Monday of Holy Week, a time when even twice-a-year-Mass-attending Christians flock toward their own churches, we gasped in horror and sadness as the spire of the legendary Notre Dame Cathedral collapsed in flames into the 12th century landmark house of faith and history.
While our hearts go out to those that prayed and sang hymns in the street hoping for a miracle to halt the destruction, we are counting our blessings here in Jim Thorpe. Our own grand sanctuary – St. Marks Episcopal Church, although still in jeopardy, there is still time to save the National Historic Landmark and its treasures from damage and destruction. It’s not too late to stop the Susquehanna Street Project.
The estimated $14 million county office and county vehicle parking garage project proposes to excavate 40 feet into the Flagstaff Mountain, just yards away from the irreplaceable Louis C. Tiffany windows and the church’s foundation, which is the mountain itself.
Vibrations in the bedrock layers from the excavation and construction increase the possibility of damage to masonry, plaster and glass.
The Save Our Sanctuaries (SOS) Committee is working hard to prevent this from happening through community awareness and, if necessary, legal action.
The Carbon County Commissioners voted last week to cancel project contracts due to a delay from an appeal of the Borough of Jim Thorpe’s conditional approval of the project. The county solicitor made it clear that this is only a delay and they intend to rebid the project once the appeal is settled.
The SOS Committee is planning several fundraisers to help educate the public and cover legal expenses.
The committee is pleased to announce fine artist David Price has donated 80 signed Christmas Eve on Race Street prints valued at $16,000 to help the committee raise funds to protect St. Marks Church, from which he drew inspiration, and Stop the Susquehanna Project. Donors giving $200 or more will receive a print blessed and embossed with the sanctified nineteenth century Seal of St. Marks.
Price described the church in a letter, “ Richard Upjohn’s country gothic masterpiece with its Romanesque stair and lofty octagonal tower reaching high above the valley is a staggering edifice—one set apart from the more modest stone structures of Penn’s Woods. Hanging precariously from the side of a mountain, the church is renowned for, the splendor of its Tiffany windows, Minton tile floor and reredos copied from Queen Victoria’s private chapel at Windsor. With its connections to New York and Bethlehem, it is unquestionably the jewel in the crown of what is often referred to as the Heritage Corridor.”
Price is a fine artist who lived in the Stone Row for 30 years and was a member of St. Marks for seven years. His watercolors and etchings of St Marks were done while he was an F. Lammott Belin Fellow. A number of these pieces were selected by Judith O’Toole of Wilkes University’s Sordoni Gallery to hang in the Washington offices of former US Representative Paul Kanjorski.
For more information or to donate, call 570-657-0198 or visit, https://sos-cc.info/