St. Ann Church in Charlotte, NC has a very interesting building history, mostly dominated by the fact that the upper church was never built. For over 40 years, the people of this parish have been worshiping in the basement which was supposed to be temporary, and the floor of the upper church simply has served as the roof of the church for decades. This is how it has looked all these years:
This is the rear entrance of the original basement, built into a hill, serving as the main entrance to the church. The flat roof line above is where the west end of the church floor would have been, and the front facade of the church (the narthex only) was built on the other end but there was no church behind it. This was the interior for many years:
Through a long time of prayer discernment, the pastor, Father Timothy Reid, decided that even though his budget was tiny (only $2.75 million) he would reestablish the church’s connection with traditional architecture. Some people weren’t happy about this. But with strong pastoral leadership, he hired architect James McCrery, and turned the church entrance into this:
It is a bit severe, but this was due to the limitations of the budget, not lack of desire or design skill. The climate of Charlotte tolerates the stucco exterior fairly well. The projecting wing on the right houses an adoration chapel, and the triple arched entry evokes the triumphal arches of the ancient world indicating the victory of Christ.
The interior was transformed as well:
Much greater height was given to the interior (which was a challenge because of the weight of the roof and somewhat inadequate foundations). The pulpit is an 1820s salvaged antique, the upper windows were also purchased from a closed church. The lower windows come from the original church. The altar is newly designed by the architect with a mosaic inlay. An altar rail was included (not yet installed in the photos below) so that the building may be used properly with the Extraordinary Form, but the rail is very transparent and open. The arcade of columns in the sanctuary uses the Ionic Order, the column which represents motherly women, as appropriate for St. Ann, mother of the Virgin Mary. There are plans, as finances allow, to further enrich the rear wall of the sanctuary with murals. The location of the tabernacle is also temporary in the photos below.
This project provides a great lesson: strong pastoral leadership and a good architect can make something great even on a small budget.
Here is a video made by the church about the construction. Enjoy!
December 8, 2009 at 5:54 pm
Lovely. The original church looked like a gas station or a storefront, and now it looks like a church: a place that inspires beauty and reverence without ostentatious display. May God bless St. Anne's Church.
December 8, 2009 at 6:22 pm
Wow! What an improvement! And on a really small budget, too. The remodeled interior looks like an actual church, whereas the old one looked like a converted strip mall storefront…
December 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm
The inside, especially the ceiling boards are beautiful. I'm hoping many MANY Tridentine liturgies will be said there.
December 8, 2009 at 8:15 pm
A massive improvement, to be sure. It looks like…a Catholic church.
The sanctuary is far too spartan. The lack of an altar rail is also disappointing (but alas not surprising). But these things can be fixed relatively easily.
December 8, 2009 at 8:50 pm
For the reading comprehension challenged..
"An altar rail was included (not yet installed in the photos below) so that the building may be used properly with the Extraordinary Form, but the rail is very transparent and open."
December 8, 2009 at 9:03 pm
It looks amazing and it has huge potential for growth as more money is collected in the future. You could add murals, altar rails, reredos or baldachios, it is wide open for improvement.
December 8, 2009 at 11:37 pm
I could see the altar rail in the first picture of the new interior, Athelstane.
December 9, 2009 at 2:06 am
I understand that the Adoration Chapel work continues. It will be interesting to see how that develops, D MAC. Keep us up to date.
December 9, 2009 at 4:58 am
They did a great job on a small budget. Thanks for posting this, D Mac! I saw another church today that took my breath away on a slightly larger scale: The Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, D.C.; it's a hybrid Romanesque and Byzantine style.
December 9, 2009 at 6:47 am
We stopped by St. Anne's in July during our vacation. We were planning on attending the Extraordinary Mass, but Father Reid was out of the country. The Extraordinary rite is celebrated Wednesday evenings and First Saturday evenings. What a wonderful transformation! Father Reid and the St. Anne congregation are to be commended.
December 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm
My husband and I attended the dedication ceremony on Saturday and it was truly a blessed occasion to experience a church atmosphere that lifts one's mind and heart to God. The refurbished stained glass windows are breathtaking!
December 9, 2009 at 2:59 pm
Wow! God bless the priest and the architect. And thank you, God, for beauty.
December 9, 2009 at 8:44 pm
that's fantastic!! 🙂 I'm in the charlotte diocese and I wish they would do that to my church :-p We're getting a new altar today, but I am fairly sure its one of those table ones instead of a high altar… ugh
December 10, 2009 at 9:14 pm
Does the construction of an Adoration Chapel mean that the reserved Blessed Sacrament will not be located in the main church?
December 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm
A very humble church building from its beginning to its completed renovation. A very humble and simple design which gives so much glory to God.I am glad that I had a chance to attend mass there before the renovation and look forward to attending mass there now that the renovation is complete. Praise God in His Glory.
December 15, 2009 at 6:50 am
It’s only the moderns that call the Traditional Latin Mass (in est—the real Mass that God intended) the “Extra-Ordinary Form.” It’s simply the Mass, period, and the Vatican II botch-up of Paul VI is an heretical travesty.
Also—a very firm rail should be installed at St Ann’s, and the altar should be against the back wall and part of it—again as God intended. Indeed, all Novus Ordo novelties should be avoided like the proverbial plague.
Note the Scott Hahn book displayed on this page. Yet another raving heretic who doesn’t know as much about bona fide Catholicism as your average Methodist.
We pray for the day when Fr Reid says only the Tridentine Rite and nothing else.
December 15, 2009 at 8:03 pm
You can't be more Catholic than the Church. I love the Trindentine Mass, but I can't believe the novus ordo is heretical. I think it's unlikely that we will ever return to the Tridentine alone, especially with the Anglicans coming in, etc. The Church has always been generous enough to allow different ways of praying. There are many flowers in the Church garden.