120_IMG_6231There’s plenty of excitement at the St. Joseph Cathedral restoration, as new and exquisite pieces arrive in time for Joe Becker’s latest blog on the job.


Editor's note: Joe Becker continues his report on the natural-stone segment of the St. Joseph Cathedral restoration in Sioux Falls, S.D.

If ever there was a time to raise the white flag and yell, “Help, I’ve got writers block!” now would be the time. After a month on site, there’s a real need for an update but ... can you have “blog block” to match the new technology of the Internet?

200_IMG_6208Click photo to enlargeThe seventh container arrived as scheduled, and the contents of the container matched our requests. This was a minor miracle, due to the fact the two items in the container – the High Altar and Cathedra – are the most-expensive and -complicated elements to Phase II.

Why a miracle? It use to be fairly uncommon to give a fabricator a priority list to follow, and then find out at the eleventh hour the fabricator has, “good news and bad news”

The conversation usually goes something like this ...

Installer: “What’s the good news?
Fabricator: The good news is that your first delivery is ready and will be on the jobsite on time!”
Client: “What’s the bad news?
Fabricator: Well, we didn’t quite get your entire priority list finished, so you’ll have a bunch more typical pieces than planned”

Sometimes, the stone installation can’t start until the second delivery arrives, because that contains the remainder of your priority list. I stress this was the case maybe 20 years ago; better tracking and fabrication technology makes deliveries a bit more predictable from the stone fabricators we deal with.200_IMG_6213Click photo to enlarge 

With the last shipment here, Container #7 made it with all pieces on hand.

We choose the delivery of the High Altar and Cathedra first because both are located in the back part of the Sanctuary. And, with nearly any job, it’s best to follow one of the basic rules in construction: start in the back and work forward. With a crew size of seven installers and helpers, we worked on both items simultaneously.

The Cathedra is the location of the Bishop’s chair, and took two weeks to assemble. Among all the carved stones and columns, the triangular pediment stone contains a hand-carved relief of Jesus ministering to others. (This art work was originated with a clay model by the Bishop’s artist, Cody Swanson.)