(6-15-98) -- St. Mary's Chapel re-opened with three Masses yesterday after being closed for nearly a month while its wooden flooring was replaced for the first time in 81 years.
Work on the project, begun on Commencement Day, was completed nearly a week ahead of schedule.
"The place looks brand new," said St. Mary's Chapel Prefect James O'Brien, SJ. "It's absolutely beautiful. The new floor is just spectacular."
Masses were said at 7 and 8 a.m. and 12 noon, in keeping with the chapel's summer weekday schedule. Masses are also offered at 8 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer.
The white oak floor under the pews in St. Mary's Chapel had not been replaced since the sanctuary opened in 1917. The floor "was worn paper-thin. It couldn't handle another sanding," said Fr. O'Brien.
The pattern of wear in the floor boards indicated at least one church-going habit had changed little over 80 years, Fr. O'Brien noted, with a laugh: "The floor boards at the back of the chapel were totally worn down, while those at the front of the church were hardly worn at all."
In the course of restoration work, the chapel's 19 pews received new wooden dowels and braces where needed, and the floor in the choir loft was sanded and stained.
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