The original altar still exists in the museum but was altered after changes to the Catholic Mass in 1969 when the raredos (the top of the altar against the wall) was destroyed, as were the two side altars and the communion rail. The parish lacked the funds to build a new altar, so instead of destroying it completely, they modified the old altar table by removing one foot off the back. They also painted over the original faux marble in white paint. Again, fortune was on our side: the nuns who tended the altar waxed it regularly, creating a protective layer over the white paint, making it relatively easy to remove without damaging the faux marble paint underneath.
The original altar is 8-feet wide and approximately 10-feet high, topped with a statue of Notre Dame du Mont-Carmel, which adds an additional four feet. The side altars are also 8-feet wide and approximately 6-feet high, topped with statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the east altar and St. Joseph on the west. Originals photos of the raredos, tabernacle, and side altars of the building assist the restoration process. Parts of the design elements in the altar table that are excellent condition can be molded and cast in polymer wood to reconstruct the raredos. The design of the side altars uses the same elements. The original paint will be cleaned with denatured alcohol with a layer of faux marbling only where necessary.
A Borrowed Altar
The altar currently installed in the museum is on loan from the town of St. Hilaire, New Brunswick. It was built during the early 1900’s (built with funds from Maxime Albert, a local liquor smuggler and bootlegger). Borrowed on the condition that our team would restore it, warped boards were removed, steamed, dried, and replaced. Once the restoration of the original altar is complete, the borrowed altar will be returned to the Church of St. Hilaire, New Brunswick.
Funders and Supporters
- Terry Helms
- Don Cyr