Architect discusses new Sacred Heart Church
By Deirdre Parker Smith
Originally, Sacred Heart bought land on Old Mocksville Road for its new campus, which included a larger church, expanded school and cemetery.
Then a land swap brought them to new property off Jake Alexander Boulevard near Isenberg School.
Gray Stout of Stout Studio Architecture designed the project and has been involved for about five years.
Input on the design of the church, which is built in the shape of a cross, came from The Rev. John Putnam, pastor, the Rev James Ebright, in residence at Sacred Heart, and The Rev. Patrick Winslow.
Stout also consulted books and rules from the Catholic church on proper design.
“I also drew on my experience in touring Catholic churches, both here in the states and in Europe” Stout wrote in an e-mail detailing the process.
“There was a clear direction that this parish wanted a traditional plan and building design. The cruciform interior is certainly traditional,” Stout wrote.
“The simplicity of the form is it’s greatest asset. Interior design assistance came from James McCreary, of Washington, D.C., who has extensive experience in designing Catholic churches in the traditional manner. James was responsible for the design of the sanctuary/altar area, with the columns and arches, as well as much of the interior trim detailing. I took his ideas for the interior and made it work with our budget.”
Stout proposed multiple locations for the church on the site, as part of the site analysis, but he really pushed for the location that the church is in, at the top of a rise in the property.
Decisions on the building were made with input from Putnam, Mike Vaeth, who is the Building Committee Chair, and by the Building Committee and the parish at large.
Stout says, “The east-west orientation is from proper liturgical design, which has the parishioners facing east during the Mass.
“The approach is across the green space/front lawn and is intended to create a procession from arrival to the entry of the church in a manner that prepares you for the Mass, a time of reflection and preparation prior to entering the church,” he says.
It was important to Stout “that the church not be located in a ‘sea of cars,’ but have a more campus feel where the automobile was not the focus. I am very pleased with the site, and as it builds out you will see the long range planning that went into it emerge.”
Nine of the 15 stained glass windows are from the original church on North Fulton Street. Six are new, along with six new half-round stained glass transoms over the doors.
Sacred Heart saved money and tradition by recycling major pieces from churches that have closed.
The marble high altar and side altars are more than 75 years old, salvaged from Our Lady Help of Christians in Chicago, Ill., and brought to Salisbury in crates and reconstructed on site.
The pews were salvaged from Queen of Peace, a closed Catholic church in Buffalo, N.Y.
“Much credit goes to the Building Committee for finding, acquiring, restoring and reusing these items,” Stout says.
Rock faces and tumbled handmade bricks on the outside of the church were made by parishioners working for Taylor Clay and donated to the church by Taylor Clay. The Taylors are longtime members of Sacred Heart.
The Stations of the Cross came from Queen of Peace in Buffalo, as well. The confessionals came from St. Stanislaus Kostka in Baltimore.
The church building is approximately 60 feet by 170 feet, for a total of 12,083 square feet. It will seat 760 people.
“This project ranks as the highlight of my career thus far,” Stout says. “It involved all levels, from site selection, site design, including a new public street (Lumen Christi Lane) and all infrastructure, a master plan for the development of the entire 107 acres using a newly adopted Traditional Land Development Ordinance, to the design of a parish hall, school and church and associated parking and playing fields and gym.
“My personal involvement, being a parishioner, and also the architect, and with my roots in the Salisbury community, all came together to make for a rewarding and challenging project.
“I could not have done it without the efforts and support of my staff at Stout Studio and consulting engineers at Gamewell Engineering, Salisbury Engineering and Planning, Shulenberger Surveying, H&H Structural Engineers and David Smith PE.
“Most importantly, Michael Vaeth and J.R. Dunkley of Sacred Heart, who unselfishly gave of their time and talent, and by the efforts of Brian Ambrose, Garth Hewitt, and Keith Hargis of J.F. Schultze Construction, who, along with their subcontractors and staff, made it real and made it happen on time and in budget.”