Holland College graduate replicates part of Island church's history

The finial once capped off St. Paul's Church in Charlottetown, but at some point in the church's two centuries, it was hidden away in the basement. Now the wood carving will shine again thanks to a student at Holland College's heritage retrofit carpentry program.

'Our students very much grey the line between a craft person and an artisan'

Holland College graduate Kelly Caseley spent more than 100 hours creating two replicas of the historic woodwork. (CBC)

A Holland College graduate is helping to restore a piece of woodwork found in the basement of St. Paul's Church in Charlottetown.

It's called a finial and looks like a star surrounded by a circle. It is believed to have once sat on top of the church.

After discovering it in the basement, the church contacted Holland College's heritage retrofit carpentry program.

"Our program works really hard to restore and maintain heritage buildings, both commercial and residential, and this is right up our alley," said Josh Silver, the learning manager for the program.

The original finial is believed to have once sat on top of the church. (CBC)

The original was in rough shape and the church is still looking into when it was the cap on top of St. Paul's.

They will be celebrating their 250th anniversary in 2019, so there are quite a few records to go through.

Silver says the finial was a complicated bit of woodworking for the student to replicate. (Submitted by Josh Silver)

Holland College graduate Kelly Caseley made two replicas of the original finial, spending more than 100 hours on the project.

"There is no right angles on this piece, it is all angles and circles and triangles so there is a lot of math and a lot of geometry involved in it," she said, "I have access to this shop with everything I could imagine. Lots of electric tools, band saws, skill saws, those sorts of things and that wasn't necessarily available when this was originally created." 

Silver said the students "grey the line between a craft person and an artisan." 

Silver says the replica of the historic finial will once again be on top of St. Paul's Church. (CBC)

"It's part of our history," he said. "It's part of our culture and everybody regardless of your faith can appreciate the esthetic beauty of it and we're just fortunate that someone had the foresight decades ago to store it away in some place that was kept safe."

Silver says the replica will be put in place at a special ceremony at St. Paul's on New Year's Eve while the original will go on display in the church.

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With files from Nancy Russell


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