Wolfe gives Catholic church in Tryon a new look

Published 12:01 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The sanctuary of St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Tryon before (above) and (after) the renovation which is currently being done by Jacob Wolfe with help from Tyler Grobowsky. (photo by Leah Justice)&bsp;Wolfe is a lifelong church member and is the son of Bob and Nina Wolfe of Tryon.

Father Patrick Winslow of St. John asked Wolfe last summer if he&squo;d paint the ceiling and as Wolfe says, &dquo;It turned into a huge project.&dquo;

Repainting the inside was a major task as wooden beams were added and brightly colored squares were painted with details into the ceiling panels. The altar was also recreated with four tons of marble.

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Ripping up the carpet unveiled hardwood floors and the former plain white walls were carved to resemble tiles.

Wolfe said he sought the help of friend and artist Tyler Grobowsky, who helped with the painting last summer. Grobowsky attends Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga., and is also a member of St. John the Baptist Church.

Father Winslow says when he arrived at the church a little over three years ago the interior of the church was simple. Everything was white with industrial pale blue carpet.

At one time the church was required to bring its tabernacle into the center and Father Winslow said he thought it would be good at the same time to get new altar appointments.

&dquo;One thing led to another,&dquo; said Father Winslow.

The church, with funding raised from the congregation, ended up ordering the four tons of marble that now make up the new lectern and altars from Italy.

In Wolfe&squo;s first year or two of college, Father Winslow said he saw some of his work and thought Wolfe could be doing hands-on what he is studying and at the same time benefit the church.

&dquo;As far as his work, I couldn&squo;t be more pleased,&dquo; says Father Winslow. &dquo;Other priests who&squo;ve seen it all say they are very impressed. I don&squo;t think he&squo;ll be wanting for work.&dquo;

Wolfe says he was glad to take on the renovation project and notes that other than the marble, local people were contracted to make everything. He attends Appalachian State University, where he is studying furniture design. Wolfe says he hopes to travel to Italy and study sculpture and marble so this project could be just the first of many sanctuary renovations for Wolfe.

St. John the Baptist Church, located on Laurel Avenue in Tryon, was first constructed in 1911. The church burned on June 25, 1959 and the new church was dedicated in Aug., 1962. The current renovation project is the first complete renovation other than general maintenance and painting since the rebuild in 1962. The santuary is open to the public at all times and Father Winslow invites the public to see the recent work.