ST. IGNATIUS — Restoration crews are finishing up the last of a major restoration project at the St. Ignatius Mission but a re-dedication of the building probably won't happen until next summer.
"You know, there's a lot of excitement. I announced on Sunday Mass that the scaffolding is coming down on the 15th, and we got applause," Father C. Hightower, S.J. told MTN News as we checked out the latest details of the Mission's restoration work.
The multi-year project has not only restored the 58-large and smaller murals, more than century old through the building, but has also uncovered many other details that were lost through time. And that's meant a certain amount of "detective work.
"Absolutely. Going through old photographs, people in the area and the neighborhood that bring us photographs that their grandparents had on the wall and stuff and tracing back to the original design, the original scroll work," Father Hightower said. "Even down to the paint pigmentation and stuff."
Right now, specialists from Custom Plaster of Boise are finishing the "up high" work far above the floor of the chapel, to amazement of visitors. Hightower answers questions about the project as people — many visitors from out-of-state — gaze up at the workers.
"It's a great joy to watch people walk in through the front door for the first time, and walk through the foyer and come into this space. And their eyes just get big and they smile, and you can see the grins even behind the masks at times."
There's still some detail work to be done, but the restoration should be complete in late fall, or perhaps early next spring.
Because the community has been so supportive of this project from the very beginning, Father Hightower says the church wants to make sure that everyone get's to be involved when a dedication ceremony takes place next summer.
Father Hightower is especially appreciative of the church members patience with all the disruption.
"You know, it's a huge thanks. Not only to the Parish community here at St. Ignatius but also to the Town of St. Ignatius and the Salish Tribe. So many people have participated in the restoration and take pride in this building and are excited that this building is going to be restored. Both the Catholics and non-Catholics, just a lot of people coming through and helping us out with financial donations. That's been a real community building aspect of it." - Father C. Hightower, S.J.
There are also plans being developed to mark the completion of the mammoth undertaking next summer.
"You know, the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola is July 31st. That's going to be a Sunday in 2022. And so we're hoping to get the Bishop to come out here and re-dedicate the murals. Re-dedicate the alter. And really have a community event for that day."