St. MIchael Catholic ChurchTybee Island, Georgia
St. Michael’s Catholic Church was built in 1891, the first church on the barrier island in southeast Georgia. In 2019, shortly after it’s 125th anniversary, the parish reached out to Conrad Schmitt Studios, Inc. with the goal of enhancing and revitalizing their historic, all wood sanctuary. The existing interior featured heavily-varnished wood paneling and an exposed truss system. The challenge for CSS designers was to create a visual focus at the front of the church, drawing the eye to the Altar of Sacrifice, tabernacle, and corpus, while maintaining the unique character of the historic interior.
The new design re-finished the wood paneling in a softer sheen, reducing the distraction of reflected light on the high-gloss varnish. The rear wall of the sanctuary was visually divided into panels and decorated with naturally-tinted stains and select placement of varnishes. Unlike typical stencils, which are applied with opaque paint, CSS artists applied stencils at St. Michael using semi-opaque stains, preserving the natural wood style. The design also softened the color of the exposed beams and re-finished several statues in the church. The subtle artwork creates a beautiful backdrop for the crucifix and statues of Mary and Joseph, adding elegance and warmth to the space, and retaining the enduring quality of this island chapel.