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New organ leads to full restoration at South Main Baptist Church

New organ leads to full restoration at South Main Baptist Church
Image courtesy of 2020 Hester + Hardaway, Photographers

New organ leads to full restoration at South Main Baptist Church

USA:

What started as a decision to replace the HOW’s organ has led South Main Baptist Church in Houston to install a new ceiling for better acoustics, then new plastering and painting and, eventually, a full restoration. Rob Tegtmeier of CW Lighting & Associates has helped the church update its lighting system using ETC’s Source Four LED Series 2 fixtures.

The previous lighting rig consisted of one very large Fresnel providing a basic wash for the sanctuary and altar. “They knew they needed a big shift in design,” said Tegtmeier. “They were happy with the reliability of the ETC equipment they had for years, but they knew they needed to upgrade to LED fixtures, which would mean a change in their dimming and processing.”

The church’s leadership also wanted to showcase the beauty of the space. “They wanted the architecture of the space to speak for itself,” added Tegtmeier. “They didn’t want lighting to distract from it, but to enhance the qualities as much as possible. There’s a lot of blue in the stained glass, so making sure you could keep the room warm enough with sunlight coming through blue glass was a high hurdle. Plus, with the paint and wood in the space there was a lot of yellow in the room. With the Source Fours, they can have multiple colour temperatures of white without being too blue or too yellow.”

ETC’s Source Four LED Series 2 fixtures provide subtle uplighting for the vaulted ceilings over stained-glass windows. Image courtesy of 2020 Hester + Hardaway, Photographers
ETC’s Source Four LED Series 2 fixtures provide subtle uplighting for the vaulted ceilings over stained-glass windows. Image courtesy of 2020 Hester + Hardaway, Photographers

Once the church was happy with the quality of the light, the design team had to deal with fixture placement. For that, they needed an assist from the architect, Bill Merriman of Merriman Holt Powell Architects. He found space for the fixtures in parts of the ceiling that wouldn’t disturb the moulding or painting. It was limited, but it worked.

“We clustered them together in alcoves within the ceiling, so they’re not nearly as noticeable,” explained Merriman. “It’s a much cleaner look for the space – and the new up-lighting of the dome over the chancel is beautiful. It was very nicely done.”

As Merriman and his team modelled out the space, Tegtmeier found another way to highlight the architecture. Each of the church’s historic stained-glass windows culminates in a vaulted ceiling with a beautiful blue painting treatment on the ceiling at the top of it. In order to light the vaults, Tegtmeier placed Source Four fixtures in unused heating ventilators at the foot of each of the windows. Shutter cuts keep the light on the blue section, enhancing it without overpowering the room.

“We’re so proud of how beautifully the sanctuary was restored that we submitted it for a Preservation Award from Preservation Houston, which it won,” Merriman added.

Thanks to the ETC fixtures, South Main Baptist’s past is preserved but the church is ready for its next chapter.



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