The Story Gregg Mentioned Below

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from an article by Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten

More information and a picture of the staircase seehere

The Miraculous Staircase

According to the story, the Sisters, seeking an answer to their architectural design dilemma, made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.

Legend says on the ninth and final day of a novena, a man showed up at the chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later the elegant circular staircase was completed and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. Some believe that he was St. Joseph himself.

Whoever the carpenter was, the staircase is a wonder. Some of the design considerations are said to still perplex experts today.

Built without nails (only wooden pegs) the staircase has two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support -- a kind of double helix design in the Old West -- and with no railing. It was not until 1887 -- ten years after the staircase was completed -- that an artisan named Phillip August Hesch added the railing.

There are also design questions about the number of stair risers compared to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway's construction -- some of which appear not to have been available from any known local source.

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I hadn't meant to put you out on the search for it, but thanks for posting something most appropriate to tomorrow's St. Joseph's day.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 17, 2004 7:16 PM.

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