Msgr. James Swiader inspects pews being restored in our shop.
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The first call for this project came from the Architects, HE2PD, Rockville Centre, to see if we could remove pews in the rear of the church for installation of a restored Paragallo organ.
On the first visit, I had deja vu all over again. We had refinished these pews in the late 80’s, and now it was time for a slight color change and a refreshing refinish job. Instead of the scheme to refinish eight pews each week (pick up Monday and Reinstall Friday), we decided to accomplish the work in quarters, with a turnaround each 2 1/2 weeks. The challenge of seating was overcome with Keck lending the church 250 chairs that we moved around each pew installation.
Since the job started in late November, we agreed to have all of the pews in the church for Christmas, half refinished with the other half to be picked up on the Monday after Christmas.
The job was completed in January of 2016. Msgr. James Swaider, originally skeptical of the tight schedule, was elated with the beautifully refinished pews, and is anticipating the refinishing of all the exterior church doors and frames, set to begin in the spring.
The Keck Group is progressing on work on modifying and restoring the pews at the historic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Paterson, NJ
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We were chosen for this project because we combined a new approach to alleviate the existing pew comfort issue. With a strong background in modifying old historic pews built for smaller bodies of the early 1900’s, The Keck Group used their former experience to create a more comfortable seating as requested by church goers in the 2000’s.
Instead of opting for expensive new pew bodies (the intent had been to replace everything but the decorative ends), we offered the option of just replacing the seat with a wider, contoured new oak seat.
Visually, the restored pews would still retain the exact look as they have for the past 80 years, but the comfort factor would be updated to the 2000’s. As you look down the church, the back capping and the backs themselves are original. Same nice old grain, while retaining the patina (beauty of age) so desired by the architects.
Although the install date is still elusive because of the problems often uncovered during the restoration of a project of this magnitude, we are well underway at our facility in Middletown, NY.
All of the seats, backs, and ends have had the finish removed, and we are in the finishing stage. The newly manufactured contoured seats are now in-house ready to be finished, the kneelers ordered, and we look forward to assembly and installation.
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St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre NY
Our latest Cathedral Project, the fifth awarded The Keck Group since 2012, will begin its second restoration project since being constructed in 1935(the first in 1987).
The church was designated the Cathedral for the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 1957, and will begin the interior restoration of the interior by the removal of pews and furnishings to our shop for restoration on January 4th, 2016.
We will keep you updated on our web site during the project where we will be refinishing, modifying and replacing the kneelers with new wood kneelers.
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Duke Chapel at Duke University
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Located on the Duke University’s west Campus, Duke Chapel is as magnificent in structure as it is in ministry.
Construction of the Chapel began in 1930 and was completed two years later.
Towering more than 290 feet, The Duke Chapel is a tribute to the talent and the patience to construct such a magnificent Chapel which is the cornerstone of the Duke Campus.
Beginning in September 2015, the team of Century Guild, Durham NC and The Keck Group, NY, were commissioned to clean and restore all of the woodwork in the chancel and transepts, portions of which rise more than 80 feet.
We are moving to completion by December 2015.
For one of America’s most prestigious church facilities, this year has seen the kickoff of the biggest full-scale restoration in its history. And for a niche company based in Middletown, New York, the project has presented the most high-profile opportunity in its history to show what it can do.
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New York’s legendary St. Patrick’s Cathedral (stpatrickscathedral.org) began work on March 17, 2013 – St. Patrick’s Day, of course – on a massive restoration that has involved everything from exterior and interior masonry to plaster, cast concrete, stain glass, bronze doors, and a wide variety of wood surfaces.
And when it comes to wood surfaces, no challenge is more important than the 400 pews that measure between 10 and 20 feet in length. The need to deploy fine craftsmanship to restore the pews to striking, impeccable condition prompted a call to The Keck Group.
Specialists in church pew restoration since 1972, The Keck Group has done work for churches as far away as Corpus Christi, Texas, although the company typically works in the eastern United States. The Keck Group has grown since its early days from 6,000 square feet of operation to 25,000 today, and has 13 full-time employees. With a specialty that absolutely demands the highest level of craftsmanship and attention to detail, The Keck Group’s growth has been the direct result of its excellence in this area. The work is complex and challenging, requiring precise care and intensive training for team members tasked with delivering a perfect finish.
While this is not the first time St. Patrick’s Cathedral has called on The Keck Group for help with pew restoration, the project is unprecedented in its size and scope.
“I would say it’s the most prestigious project we’ve done,” said Bob Koeck, the company’s founder, who has already overseen the complete refinishing of 200 pews that are ready to install.
If not for the gradual pace of the project, Koeck says the volume of the project could have been a serious challenge. The Keck Group’s normal production is 400 feet worth of pews per week. St.
Patrick’s Cathedral has 4,000 feet of pews all by itself – but the project is happening over a two-year period that allows The Keck Group to stay on schedule and still handle its normal workload from other churches.
“We take great care in making sure the end result is excellent. As we go through every step – taking the finish off, prepping, sanding, finishing – we have to apply best practices and tremendous attention to detail.” Koeck said. “A project this large would be one-fifth of our annual volume if it was done all at once, but since it’s being done over a two-year period everything has been able to stay on schedule.”
Ron Pennella, who is heading the restoration project for St. Patrick’s Cathedral, said The Keck Group won the job as a result of a rigorous bidding process that considered experience and skill, as well as price.
“They have history with the cathedral, they’re a local vendor, and I’ve worked with them before in the past,” Pennella said. “And Bob is a great guy, but at the end of the day it all came down to their qualifications, experience, and eventually price, which is a driving issue in today’s market.”
According to Rolando Kraeher, who serves as project architect and manager from the firm Murphy, Burnham & Buttrick, the challenging nature of the project made the type of experience offered by The Keck Group an absolute must.
“You don’t want to hire someone who has no experience, otherwise we would have to be holding their hands,” Kraeher said. “There is a lot of craftsmanship that goes into this, and as the architect you can’t specify what the level of finish needs to be and what they need to do, so you have to let the craftsman do their job – and that comes with experience. Bob Koeck and his company – they have it.”