St Michael’s Church – Rochester, NY

I don’t know when I first noticed this church, but I remember clearly when I became interested in going inside of it. John Mellancamp was in town filming a movie and I saw some photographs of the interior of the church. It was more beautiful than any church I had even been inside of ( being before I had visited Rome). I really wanted to get in there and wander around.

I didn’t think that was a possibility unless I found someone who went to church there (which I never did).

So when Chris and Luke started their tour of Religiously Significant Sites in Upstate New York discussion began anew about being able to see the inside. Link to Chris & Luke’s Blog —> Chris and Luke Explore the Burned Over District 

I won’t get into the long process of rescheduling, cancelled tours and one or more of us being unavailable that has been going on since the beginning of the year – except for to tell you that for a while it looked like St Michaels was a tour that would just never happen. Many thanks to Chris for persevering!

When we arrived there appeared to be an event going on inside the church. We were all figuring this was going to be yet another time where we ALMOST got to see St Michaels. So we wandered around the outside for a bit and took some exterior shots.

steeple   steeple   steeple St Michaels   Roof lines St Michaels church   Steeple St Michaels church   intricate door knob & plate   wrought iron end piece   Mother Mary statue   Michael Angel   Michael slaying the dragon   exterior of St Michaels Church   Michael   Mother Mary  Mother Mary   carved ivy on column   statue of Michael   statue of St Michael   St Michael

Very shortly our fears were assuaged when our tour guide Tom arrived. We were hesitant to enter the church with an event occurring, but he assured us that if we stayed to the back of the church we would not be a distraction.

inside front entrance   interior door way St Michaels   cherub holding up Holy Water   pull rope for bells in tower   interior of St Michaels church   front entrance ceiling   spiral staircase   St Francis   stained glass   south side interior    panoramic interior of St Michaels   That’s Tom <— in the left hand side of this photo.

underneath choir loft   ceiling of St Michaels   You will notice at this point in the tour I am trying to take most of my photos of the upper parts of the church so as not to disturb the Baptism that is in progress.

interior of St Michaels church Rochester NY   model of St Michaels church

Tom was exceptionally knowledgable about not only this particular church and it’s architect Aldolphus Druiding but also about the style that the church was built in. I could not possibly relay even a tiny portion of his wealth of knowledge here (let alone remember the names). But he did let me in on the origins of the style of architecture which later became known as Gothic (and which style was revived in the creation of St Michaels and many others). I now would love to visit the Basilica of St Denis. Since I have a trip planned to France this year – it may even become possible. Look it up when you have some time if this style interests you at all.

St Elizabeth   St Elizabeth   North Ceililng   ceiling fan   It was remarked that the ceiling fan is most likely not original. stained glass of Moses receiving Commandments   Stained Glass   South side ceiling   Receiving the Keys to Heaven stained glass   Resurrection in Stained Glass   Moses receiving Commandments in Stained Glass   Abraham and Isaac in Stained Glass   Daniel in Stained Glass   St Barbara   St Barbara   ceiling   underneath choir loft   Holy Water on Tap

I had fully intended on leaving the Baptism folks completely alone – but this was such an amazing shot, I had to take it. Family blurred out, so hopefully it won’t upset anyone.

Baptism at St Michaels

Looking west towards altar in St Michaels   Altar at St Michaels - Rochester NY   Moses window   stained glass window   Daniel in Stained Glass   Abraham and Isaac in Stained Glass   stained glass windows   Pipes from Original Organ in Choir Loft   In this photo you can tell a few things. Primarily that I was not paying any attention to the humans in the room and was just stunned by the beauty of the church. So you can see some of Tom’s Head and the very top of Chris’. Then Luke is the overexposed figure in the background further.

Looking East. Choir Loft and main entrance

stained glass   stained glass

doorway   altar at St Michaels   altar at St Michaels   This window is unique for a couple of reasons. Firstly it is the only window in the church that does not include an angel. Besides that it is also the only window in the church to have ever been broken. At some point there was a small fire and the Firemen had to break through a portion of the Stained Glass in order to get the hose through. The folks who made the windows originally (I am hoping someone remembers who that was as I would like to research them further as well) were able to match the pattern exactly from their records. Because of age and dye lots they were not able to exactly match the colors which is why the cloak color varies from one panel to the other. repaired window      pulpit

Altar at St Michaels Rochester NY

angel   stained glass   St Michael stained glass

to Egypt you go   removing scales   Mary with infant Jesus      I noticed this piece of art specifically because it did not seem to quite match the other art in the church. Tom agreed. This is Saint Stanislaus. Apparently a member of the congregation thought that it was very very important that Saint Stanislaus be given a prominent place on display. I have to imagine he selected this art work out himself as well. It turns out that this individual had enough weight (or cash) that a few years down the line he was able to influence the naming of an entire church after his favorite Saint down the road a bit at Hudson and Norton. Saint Stanislaus   Jesus removed from Cross   Mary, Jesus and someone else : ) not sure who that is   Chris and Tom   base of baptismal      Someone (Chris perhaps?) asked if we could go up into the Choir Loft…. and we could! How cool is that! I would have never even thought to ask… I was already feeling so honored  and fortunate that we had been able to wander all over the sanctuary taking photos.

Tom explained that these were very unique spiral staircases because of the lack of separate supports. Apparently architecture students will come and study these periodically to understand how they are built.    What those pipes actually look like on the back side. Less pretty to look at – but all the more pretty to listen to. You can also see the bell ropes as they make their way up to the tower.functional organ pipes   dominum   altar from loft   upper window   upper round window   decorative pipes up close   donors for organ   donors for organ   panoramic photo of interior of St Michaels church Rochester NY   view from loft on south side   window detail   to Egypt   Choir Regulations    There’s my husband Paul : ) Paul in choir loft   ceiling   view from loft   pipes again   altar reflected in organists mirror   altar from Choir loft      ceiling      Even our most knowledgable tour guide had no idea what this was about. unknown door   spiral stair rail   spiral steps   stairs   stairs   sign for St Michaels   St Michael

Street view of Saint Michaels church Rochester NY

cross on roof   The original church. Original Parrish church   original Parrish church   There was a story told about how someone got in big trouble because the steeple on this church when finished turned out to be 20 feet higher than the one at another church in the area which it was NOT supposed to be. Unfortunately I can’r remember who all the players were and enough details to actually retell you the story. steeple   roof and steeple

Gives you a good excuse as you need to go see this magnificent place in person.



Chris has uploaded his blog posting and has remembered all of those details I was alluding to and a whole lot more. So if you would like some articulate information check out the posting:

~ by justteejay on June 11, 2012.

11 Responses to “St Michael’s Church – Rochester, NY”

  1. Great shots TeeJay! I love that you included so many.

    Also, I’m not sure I saw the Stanislaus icon so I’m glad you pointed it out. The Orthodox folks definitely had an entirely different method of telling a story and the artwork certainly reflects that.

    I’m glad we got to do this together!

  2. […] and there’s plenty more info there that I didn’t cover. Also, be sure to check out TeeJay’s blog–she posted a LOT of really fantastic photos. Thanks Tom and St. Michael’s for allowing […]

  3. Loved it, and awesome shots! I didn’t catch that door to no where in the wall, where was that?

  4. Teejay,
    Your pictures of St Michael’s are great.
    I received the site from my brother since it was our family church
    and school for myself my 2 brothers and my sister.

    We all went to St Michael’s school for 9 years, kindergarten included.
    We all sang in the choir and all the boys were alter boys.
    We all have many memories of this magnificient place.
    We all bowled in the bowling alley in the back building.
    I remember the fire which happened sometime in the mid 1950’s.
    I went through grammer school with the son of the organ player Mrs. Carnes.
    I think she played organ there for around 45 years.

    If you are doing more research we may be able to help.

    Thanks for the pictures.

    Jerry Donaldson

    • Jerry, I am so glad that you enjoyed the pictures. St Michaels truly is an inspirational place. Hard to believe that we have something that beautiful here in Rochester and so few people are aware of it.~TeeJay

  5. Was just re-reading this and remembering what a great time we had!

  6. […] and there’s plenty more info there that I didn’t cover. Also, be sure to check out TeeJay’s blog–she posted a LOT of really fantastic photos. Thanks Tom and St. Michael’s for allowing […]

  7. We had attended my Aunt’s funeral there recently. My daughter thought it was such a beautiful church. She went back in after the funeral to take pictures to show her husband back in In. I then found this link and sent it to her also . It is a magnificent church. It has been years since I had been back. So glad to see all these pictures of it. Thank you

  8. The door in the middle of the choir loft wall was a provision by the church builders to allow for potential expansion of the pipe organ. If the organ was ever expanded into the north wing of the choir loft, there would need to be access to inside the pipe chamber. Behind that door is a stairwell that comes from the attic, and the thought was you could get to the expanded pipes through the attic and down those stairs into the organ addition. They didnt want to take precious space from the potential pipe chamber to incorporate a door, stairs, and access space from the loft floor. Obviously, the addition never materializied, but its a pretty cool concept.

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