Who wants a pew?
St. Mary’s Church on Federal Street is asking that question as it prepares to undergo an estimated $5 million building rehabilitation project for the church and rectory that will include the replacement of the wooden pews. St. Mary’s is giving the old ones away this Friday for free to anyone interested in taking them.
The offer has generated significant interest, according to St. Mary's pastor, Father John Murray.
"A lot of calls and emails and people are kind of excited about getting a pew whether they’re a member of the parish or not,” Fr. Murray said. “Others are just interested in Nantucket history.”
The pews, Murray added, are not the church’s original pews, but are believed to be around 60 years old. The new pews will be arriving and installed in early March. They will be more comfortable, he said, and solve some of the issues the church has had with the attachments for kneeling coming crashing down on the floor during services.
“I was hoping they would just be in need of repairs, but repairing them is much more of a task than replacing them, believe it or not,” Murray said. “We looked at the possibility of restoring them but it would cost more and take longer. So we need to be able to make this a cost-effective and time-effective project.”
The replacement of the pews is part of a larger restoration project at the church that Father Murray estimated at $5 million. Beyond the new pews, it will include painting, lighting, carpeting, electrical work, and exterior restoration at both the main church on Federal Street as well as the church rectory on Orange Street.
The project also means the church will be unable to use its main area of worship for roughly three months while the work is completed. Daily mass will be held in St. Mary’s basement while the project is ongoing, Murray said, and Sunday mass will be held at the Odd Fellows Hall on Bartlett Road. He hopes to return Sunday mass to the main church area and complete the project by Easter.
“We’re not looking to create a palace or a second Vatican,” Murray emphasized. “This is just to update and restore the beauty of both these places and do it in a responsible manner.”
With regard to the pews, St. Mary’s facilities manager Brian Davis advised the following:
“On Friday, January 5th, St Mary’s church, at 3 Federal Street, will be giving away all of the pews for free in order to make way for new ones. If you have any interest, please feel free to come by this week and measure, take pictures, etc. but you are responsible for removing your pew(s) the morning of Friday the fifth. Please note that pews cannot be removed before Friday.”
While the pews are being given away for free, both Davis and Father Murray asked that those taking them away on Friday consider a donation to the church of any amount to help defray the cost of the project.