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Restored Sedilia are Part of Our History

Erik Schuttz, cabinetmaker, Sally Harris, SJP president, and Hurish Pajeski, facilities manager, the day of installation.

History surrounds us here at Saint James Place. The newest old elements at our arts and culture center are two restored sedilia. They’re gorgeous! What ARE sedilia, you may ask? (We have two seats, so to be correct in Latin we should write sedile…but we’re going to stick with sedilia for this post, if you don’t mind.)

What Are sedilia?

Sedilia is Latin for seats that that are on both sides of a church altar. Sedilia are often made of stone but, obviously, not always. This is where the officiating priest and his assistants, the deacon and sub-deacon, would sit during Mass in a Catholic or Anglican/Episcopal Church. Now these beautifully rehabilitated carved walnut seats fit perfectly at the back of our large Sanctuary space and are a significant piece of church architecture here at Saint James Place.

Sally Harris compares a portion of new cresting to the original. Cresting is carved decoration on the top of a piece of seat furniture

When Sally and Fred Harris undertook the restoration of Saint James Place in 2017 they knew they couldn’t restore every part and parcel at once. These restored sedilia have been in the wings waiting for their moment to shine again, and have gone through meticulous restoration.

The seats were finally re-installed in May after extensive rehabilitation by local third-generation master cabinetmaker, Erik O. F. Schutz. They will stay at the back of our largest performance space.

The sedilia during installation in May 2021.

For You History Buffs

The sedilia of Saint James Church were built and installed in 1926 and then the second in 1944. The first was made in East Cambridge, Massachusetts at Ross. & Co. The second was made by Irving and Casson-Davenport Co. in New York City. Both were carved from original drawings by Wilfred Edwards Anthony, a specialist in Gothic Revival architecture. Anthony designed the stunning Arts-and- Crafts/Gothic St. Catherine of Sienna Church on East 68th Street, NYC (take a virtual tour here).

Come in to Saint James Place for a performance or event (check our events calendar) and take in all the wonderful details of our restored sedilia!