Piece by piece, the historic St. Francis Catholic Church in downtown Bend is getting put back together.
As Central Oregon Daily News first reported back in September, the century-old church underwent a massive, parishioner-funded, multi-million dollar restoration project. The building has been around nearly as long as the city of Bend and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
This summer, every stained-glass window was removed and sent to Chicago for repairs. The altar also underwent a major upgrade. It’s a project years in the making.
Lisa Rigali, the co-owner of the restoration company Daprato Rigali Studios, says they began working with St. Francis in 2019.
“Because it is a historical church and it’s being revived, to me, that’s really exciting to see in general,” Rigali said. “To be part of that restoration is, is really neat.”
In fact, Rigali’s family was a part of the church’s foundation in the early 1900s. Rigali’s great-grandfather founded the company that helped build the church’s statues and design the ornate stained-glass windows.
Her work inside St. Francis is bringing new life to the art her great-grandfather had a hand in a century ago.
“It’s always just a special feeling, you know, to be part of that legacy,” Rigali said, in-between painting the final touches of the new altar.
Before the renovations, the stained glass was dirty. The church was dark as light from the outside was dimmed by the aging art. As the colorful glass panels slowly get re-installed, the impact is obvious.
From the outside, bystanders can now see the detail of the large glass window above the front door.
On the inside, carefully cleaned windows now allow light to stream in, highlighting the new, brighter and whiter altar, complete with a stencil nod to the church’s namesake.
“This is a custom made stencil basically to symbolize St. Francis,” Rigali explained of the new paint in the dome above the altar.
In September, the church’s goal was to raise $2 million by the end of the year. That goal has been reached, however costs have increased.
The church now says the total price is around $2.3 million, partially due to additional costs associated with structural and roof repairs. They’re still accepting donations.
On Friday, the church will host an open house for all those who’ve donated, giving them an early look at their investment.
The goal was to open the church by Easter, but due to delays with HVAC and other work, the doors may stay closed until later next spring.
The church is planning to have another open house for the public next spring, once most of the installation work is complete.
For more information on the renovations, click here.