By Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction
“That in all things God may be glorified through Mary”
On May 22nd, the final piece of the more than 11,600 piece puzzle was placed to complete an endeavor that took about 8 months to complete. This puzzle was the masonry veneer of The Priory of our Lady of Ephesus in Gower Missouri.
Inspired by the Historic Taylor Barn
It all started exactly one year to the day, on May 22nd when the project team went to see the Taylor Barn. The Benedictine’s of Mary, Queen of Apostles dreamed of a beautiful stone church that mirrored churches built hundreds of years ago. For inspiration and to get an idea of what that might look like, the project team to a trip to the Historical Taylor Barn in Lawrence, KS.
This historic barn is made of limestone and was built in 1879 and has been used as a unique event space for weddings and other events since 2007. During this visit, the ownership and design team were able to show Straub Construction what they wanted the exterior of the church to look like. We tried to tell the sisters and design team that people don’t build new construction like that anymore, but they would not be swayed. It’s almost like their decision was set in stone.
A Masonry Endeavor
After the visit to the Taylor Barn, several masonry veneer mock-ups and samples were constructed at the project site to confirm the ability to construct the masonry details and to establish the ‘standard’ for the masonry construction. Once this mock-up was approved, Apex Construction was off to production and began laying stone. We knew this wasn’t going to be the fastest masonry endeavor, but when it was done it would be a sight to see.
Throughout the months of veneer construction, the Apex Construction crew became a welcome sight for the sisters at the Priory of our Lady of Ephesus. However, the masonry veneer wasn’t without its challenges. One of the main challenges undertaken during the veneer construction was the sequencing of the bell tower masonry. The bell tower’s location provided both a logistical and engineering challenge. The church’s roof couldn’t sustain the weight of a scaffolding system, so the stone on the bell tower had to be set before roof construction began. A scaffold system was erected from the church floor through the structure of the church to gain access to the bell tower. Once the bell tower masonry was complete and the scaffolding was removed, everyone got to marvel at a ‘floating’ stone tower fifty feet in the air.
As the winter months turned to spring, the stone exterior that the owners and designers dreamed of was completed. After a long 8 months of work, a celebration was in order. On May 22nd, many people gathered to celebrate the blessing and setting of the cornerstone. On this beautiful day, many Straub Construction employees, the design team, and members of the community gathered in Gower to share in the celebration. The stone was set with the inscription “That in all things God may be glorified through Mary.” We hope that in hundreds of years, the Benedictine’s of Mary Queen of Apostles are still glorifying God in this beautiful church.