Church restora­tion a throw­back to days of Kennedy wed­ding

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

The church where John F Kennedy and Jac­que­line Bou­vier got mar­ried is be­ing re­stored to the ap­pear­ance it had when they wed in 1953. St Mary’s Church in New­port, Rhode Is­land, was the site of the wed­ding on Sept 12, 1953, when Kennedy was a se­na­tor from Mas­sachusetts. The cou­ple of­ten spent week­ends and sum­mers in New­port, where her fam­ily owned prop­erty. Dur­ing those vis­its, in­clud­ing dur­ing his pres­i­dency, the cou­ple wor­shipped at St Mary’s. They al­ways sat in pew 10.

Five years af­ter the wed­ding, in 1958, the Ro­man Catholic church in­stalled a new or­gan, made by famed or­gan mak­ers Casa­vant FrËres of Que­bec, Canada. The or­gan was so large its pipes and case­work filled much of the choir loft, cov­er­ing two stained glass win­dows and other ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures. “In 1958, we did not know that (Kennedy) was go­ing to be­come pres­i­dent,” the Rev Kris von Maluski said on Wed­nes­day.

That or­gan broke in 2014, and the church is now restor­ing it and re­plac­ing the case­work and pipes with parts that fit into the space and match the Gothic style of the church. Church of­fi­cials are us­ing a blue­print they found from 1937 so that the re­sult will match “what we think it may have looked like” when the Kennedys mar­ried, von Maluski said.

“They would have walked down the aisle see­ing, hope­fully, what we put up again,” he said. St Mary’s was built be­tween 1848 and 1852, and is a na­tional his­toric shrine. When the US Naval Academy was tem­po­rar­ily moved to New­port from An­napo­lis, Mary­land, dur­ing the Civil War, St Mary’s served as its chapel. Among the prob­lems with the ex­ist­ing or­gan is that it ob­structs arch­ways in the choir loft, so the 40 choir mem­bers have to duck and crowd to­gether. The new de­sign will solve that, said Cody Mead, the church’s mu­sic di­rec­tor.

“We look at this as a mu­si­cal project as well as an ar­chi­tec­tural project,” he said. The church is launch­ing a fundrais­ing cam­paign to help pay for the work, which in­cludes the $600,000 cost of re­fur­bish­ing the or­gan and $200,000 to re­con­struct the choir loft, as well as ad­di­tional money to main­tain the in­stru­ment and pro­vide mu­si­cal schol­ar­ships and pro­grams. Von Maluski says the church at­tracts many tourists in­ter­ested in the Kennedys. In the sum­mers, it holds a spe­cial pro­gram called “Re­turn to Camelot,” which in­cludes live or­gan mu­sic from the wed­ding and a video pre­sen­ta­tion about the Kennedys’ time at St Mary’s and in New­port. — AP

In this Oct 1, 1961 file photo, Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy and first lady Jac­que­line Kennedy, ac­com­pa­nied by Charles Bartlett and his wife, leave St Mary’s Church in New­port, RI, af­ter Mass. — AP

In this Sept 12, 1953 file photo, Se­na­tor John F Kennedy, DMass, leaves St Mary’s Church with his bride, the for­mer Jac­que­line Bou­vier, af­ter their wed­ding in New­port, RI.

Photo shows mu­sic di­rec­tor Cody Mead points to where or­gan pipes have been re­moved from in front of the stained glass win­dows in the choir loft of St Mary’s Church.

Scaf­fold­ing used to help dis­as­sem­ble the or­gan stands in the sanc­tu­ary of St Mary’s Church in New­port, RI.

Photo shows the front of St Mary’s Church in New­port, RI.

Photo shows the pew where John and Jac­que­line Kennedy sat dur­ing wor­ship is marked with a plaque in St Mary’s Church.

Photo shows the plaque mark­ing where John and Jac­que­line Kennedy sat dur­ing wor­ship is af­fixed to a pew in St Mary’s Church.

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