Have you stepped into the chapel to see the restored mural behind the altar? This week the Kane County Chronicle featured a story on our mural and the restoration work that was completed. Be sure to treat yourself to some time in our beautiful chapel, and feel free to stay for a time of prayer and contemplation.
‘We are all astonished at how beautiful it is’
GENEVA – For nearly 100 years, “The Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost,” a mural by renowned artist Louis Grell was adhered to the chapel’s plaster wall in St. Mark’s Church in Geneva.
As part of the Episcopal church’s celebration of its chapel’s 150 years, members also sought to have the six panels of oil on canvas restored, church member Ronald Walkington said.
“Prior to that, the church never knew anything about the mural,” Walkington said.
Kuniej Berry Associates LLC undertook the project last month, lifting decades of soil that came from the church’s old coal furnace, said Jim Dickerson, chairman of the church’s restoration committee.
“Now that it is clean, we can see things that have not been seen in our generation,” Dickerson said. “We can see details and true colors, brush strokes. … The painting is an absolutely beautiful and majestic piece that we are so fortunate to have in our historic chapel.”The restoration workers used a type of warm gel which they applied to a square foot at a time, Dickerson said.
When the gel cooled and hardened within about two minutes, they would peel it back and with it would come all the dirt that had accumulated over the years, Dickerson said.
“We are all astonished at how beautiful it is,” Dickerson said.
Aside from its beauty, the mural’s importance and history would not have been discovered were it not for a relative who sent the church’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. Mark Tusken, a book of church meeting minutes from 1917 to 1933.
Tusken gave the book to Walkington’s wife, Margaret in 2012, but she didn’t start reading the minutes until 2015, Ronald Walkington said.
The minutes of Sept. 24, 1919, stated that a partial payment was made to Grell for the canvases of the mural, Ronald Walkington said.
Ronald Walkington reached out to Grell’s grandnephew, Richard Grell, through the Louis Grell Foundation, trying to document the mural.
Ronald Walkington took photos of the mural’s physical dimensions where the seams were joined together to send them to Richard Grell.
Follow this link to see the photos taken by Sandy Bressner that accompanied the article.