Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two-day weekend program to explore Schulte churches

This weekend, the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati (AFC) will sponsor "The Lord was my Client: Church Architecture of Edward J. Schulte, 1890-1975", a free two-day program featuring a lecture, panel discussion, and tours focused on the works of the prominent local architect.

On Saturday at 1 P.M. at the St. Peter in Chains Cathedral Undercroft, 325 W Eighth Street, noted architectural historian Dr. Denis McNamara will highlight Schulte's work as designer of some of the City's most prominent churches in the 1930s and 1940s.

McNamara, assistant director and faculty member of the Liturgical Institute at the University of Saint Mary on the Lake and the author of two books on church architecture, says that Schulte neither embraced nor resisted the period's Modernist style. Instead, Schulte successfully married the trends of Modern architecture with traditional ecclesiastical materials and forms.

"Schulte seemed to blend the two, always seeking to make his churches 'churchly' while embracing as many modern trends as he could," he says. "He was not afraid to be traditional in a time when Modernism was almost fanatically promoted, nor was he afraid to be 'modern' in a very traditional ecclesiastical environment.

Having worked on more than 80 churches in 20 states during his career and holding the distinct honor of being the only American architect of the 20th century who could list four cathedral commissions, Schulte by the 1950s became nationally known as a prolific designer.

"He was without a doubt among the busiest and most successful church architects of the 1950s with a national reputation, and his attention to the combination of high level craft in paint, marble, bronze, wood and stained glass makes his churches true standouts," McNamara says. "Everything in a Schulte church is carefully designed by him and harmoniously orchestrated with a knowledge of theology and liturgical renewal that most architects simply did not have."

Schulte is known to have designed about a dozen houses in Cincinnati in the 1930s, which have yet to be located and studied. He was also part of the local social scene.

"He delivered a number of [unpublished] lectures to the Cincinnati Literary Club which reveal that he was a philosopher and social critic as well," McNamara says. "He was also interested in music and was a member of the board of the Cincinnati Conservatory for many years."

McNamara's lecture will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Father Armstrong, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and currently the pastor of St. Antoninus in Green Township. Joining McNamara on the panel will be architect and AFC trustee emeritus Donald Junker and photographer/publisher Robert Flischel.

Seating is limited for the Saturday program, and reservations are requested. Contact reserve@architecturecincy.org or (513) 421-4469 to register.

Sunday tours

On Sunday between 2 P.M. and 4:30 P.M., guided tours will be available at ten of Schulte's churches, including:

Printable guides for each church can be found on the AFC website.

Building photos courtesy of the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati. McNamara photo courtesy of the Liturgical Institute.