A New Old St. Paul Returns to His Parish Perch High Above Broadway

Resin replacement of the wooden 225-year-old St. Paul statue is swung into its niche below the roof of St. Paul's Chapel on Broadway. Photo: Trinity Wall Street/Leo Sorel

Oct. 09, 2016

He did not descend from heaven, but St. Paul did make an earthly landing last week.

A statue of the apostle on Oct. 4 was lowered via knuckleboom crane to his niche 50 feet above the entrance to the chapel that bears his name at Broadway and Vesey Street. This St. Paul is a hardy resin copy of the weathered, 225-year-old original carved out of tulip poplar and removed in August 2015 for restoration. Deemed too delicate for any more exposure to the elements, the old St. Paul will reside in the sanctuary and be unveiled on Oct. 30 at St. Paul's Chapel’s 250-year anniversary celebration.

Video slide show: A reborn St. Paul is back home in his niche. 1:16


Restoration of the statue as well as the creation of the copy were performed by conservator Steve Tatti, whose technicians took a laser scan of the statue to create a digital 3D model. In another shop, the digital information was used to guide the cutting arm of a milling machine, sculpting a 3D foam model from which the mold for the cast resin replica was created.

Because the statue resides high above the ground, it can only be fully viewed from across Broadway. That distance created a challenge for Tatti and those at Trinity Wall Street overseeing the project, and it was decided that the new statue would not be an exact replica of the eroded original. "We felt we could take some liberty and take the nose and the mouth and the profile and make it a little bit more pronounced so that from a distance you could read it as a head and a figure," Tatti said as riggers prepared to lift the new statue into place.

As for the job of getting St. Paul back in his niche, rigger Steve Cole whose company's crew of eight did the job said it was a piece of cake. "You had some wind and a little sway but it's just finesse,” he said. “Take your time, do it once, don’t scratch it and use kid gloves to get it up there."

"For riggers who climb buildings all over the city," he added, "this was a nice evening spent at St. Paul’s."