In 1983, Father Jack Wall became Pastor of Old Saint Patrick’s Church, the oldest public building in Chicago. With only four parishioners and a worn building, Father Wall began to revive the parish by developing community programs and restoring the church building, which houses original stained glass windows designed by artist Thomas O’Shaughnessy.
The windows, which express Celtic culture as seen in the 9th-century illuminated manuscript the Book of Kells, inspired the goal of the renovation: to connect Celtic spirituality to contemporary Catholic worship. The project included the design of intricate, curvilinear stencils on light fixtures, elegant plaster reliefs, and stone flooring, using computer-aided design and waterjet cutting technology. A new altar and pews were created, incorporating motifs from Celtic culture at both grand and intimate scales.
A gracious, light-filled space, rejuvenated with history, welcomed an influx of new parishioners into a thriving Church. The renovation was honored with a prestigious national AIA Award for Design Excellence.