MONASTERY IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH in Ferdinand, Indiana (top) underwent extensive
restoration from 2001 to 2005. The interior is a blend of the church’s traditional beauty, enhanced
by restoration, with a contemporary prayer area that serves as the eucharistic chapel. In 2007 it was
one of four building projects recognized for excellence in architectural design by the Kentucky
Society of Architects, a chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
The sisters’ vision document for the restoration stated: “We . . . want the space to reflect a renewed sense of church for our time as well as our own identity as a Benedictine monastic community. We want to restore the fabric of the church building while preserving its beauty and adapting
its space for our monastic prayer today. . . . An essential element of the Benedictine’s life is prayer
both communal and individual.”
FOR YEARS THE MEN’S CISTERCIAN MONASTIC COMMUNITY of the Abbey of Our Lady of New
Melleray (at left) near Peosta, Iowa had considered the possibility of renovating a two-story wing of
their 1858 monastery. With the decision in 1973 to remodel this wing for the permanent location of
the abbey church, the second floors were removed, thereby allowing use of the full height of the
structure for the church.
Douglas fir was used as the decking in the roof, which rises 49 feet to its peak. Red quarry-tile
was chosen for the flooring throughout, and the choir stalls, doors, tabernacle house, and furnishings are constructed of solid red oak. The altar is black opalescent granite, quarried in northern
Minnesota, and weighs five and a half tons.
The church was consecrated on July 16, 1976—the 127th anniversary of the community’s founding. The new design received awards from the AIA Honor Awards Jury and AIA Minnesota.
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