G&S Acoustics, a St. Louis-based acoustical product manufacturer recently completed a “heavenly” acoustical project for St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Church, the third oldest, active Catholic Church in the city of St. Louis, Missouri.
Located at 1408 South Tenth Street in St. Louis, St. Vincent DePaul does a great deal of charity work, including feeding the hungry and homeless in the metropolitan area. Their parish hall serves sandwiches to those in need daily and, on the last 10 days of each month, serves sit-down meals to 100-300 guests.
But St. Vincent’s had a problem: the acoustics in its huge parish hall were so bad that their 1,000-plus weekly visitors couldn’t hear a thing. Formerly a gymnasium with brick walls, wood floors and a high, open ceiling, the parish hall is quite noisy when filled with diners. Sounds reverberate and make conversation difficult. The need for acoustical treatment was obvious.
So, a little divine inspiration was needed.
Inspiration came when two separate renovation projects at the historic church turned into one big idea, thanks to the brainchild of Father Ed Murphy, C.M., pastor of St. Vincent’s Church.
By coincidence, the church was also renovating its historic stained glass windows in the adjacent sanctuary. Father Murphy wanted to incorporate a community art project for the parish hall. So, why not bring the magnificent images of the stained glass windows into the parish hall? This idea was the basis for the acoustical panel artwork project that offered sound control and graphically portrayed the church’s mission of serving the poor.
While meeting with G&S Acoustics about panel options for the parish hall, the St. Vincent’s team in charge of building maintenance learned that the acoustic panels could be digitally printed with artwork.
St. Vincent DePaul’s parish hall is large and cavernous, measuring 90-feet by 45-feet with a ceiling reaching a height of 25-feet at its highest point. It would require some creative acoustical treatment from G&S Acoustics. The plan involved using fabric and veil-covered acoustic panels for both the walls and ceiling.
“It was a thrill to be working on a treasured landmark like St. Vincent’s,” said Herb Golterman, President of G&S Acoustics. “We knew that the Acousti-Image wall panels would be an effective and economical way to showcase artwork. How they replicate the look of stained glass is just beautiful.”
For the parish hall walls, St. Vincent DePaul choose the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy — acts of charity that serve the material needs of others with food, clothing, shelter and care. The actual artwork originated from the stained glass window at the Mercy Center in Kirkwood, Missouri. The windows were beautifully crafted by Emil Frei Studios, world-renowned stain glass artisans specializing in church windows for five generations, and also located in Kirkwood. Coincidently, Stephen Frei was a parishioner at this time at St. Vincent’s Church and Emil Frei Studios recently completed the restoration glass work in the sanctuary.
G&S Acoustics printed high definition images of the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy to 20 4’x4’ acoustical wall panels. The colorful panels resemble stained glass art and are placed 10 on each side of the parish hall, providing sound treatment and beauty to the walls.
G&S Acoustics also produced and installed an additional 45 white 4’x8’ acoustical ceiling panels to blend into the parish hall’s ceiling.
And the crowning jewel? G&S Acoustics recreated an old paper mural of St. Vincent that was hanging at the front of the hall into an oversized, four-panel acoustical mural. This last piece replicates one of the church’s famed stained glass windows, tying the parish hall with the sanctuary.
“We’re very pleased with how well the project turned out, especially the large image of St. Vincent,” says Father Murphy, C.M., pastor at St. Vincent DePaul Church. “The colors are rich and beautiful like real stained glass.”
According to George Dennis, the St. Vincent’s building manager who coordinated the renovation project, “It’s an entirely different experience in our parish hall. Now we can hear our guests, and we’ve brought our mission to life on our beautiful artistic walls. We’re getting our message across in more ways than one!”
G&S Acoustics has received high praise for the job. The parish is so thrilled with the look and acoustical results that they already have plans for their next project!
St. Vincent DePaul is located at 1408 South Tenth Street in St. Louis, Missouri, and was made a City Landmark in 1971. Founded March 17, 1844, it was designed by the famous American explorer Meriwether Lewis and George Barnett in 1845.