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The Keck Group's Church Pew Refinishing Since 1972

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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. New York’s legendary St. Patrick’s Cathedral ( 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 Pannella, 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,” Pannella 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.”

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Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral

Construction of The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral was completed in 1815, and at the time was the third Catholic Church organized in the United States. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, and designated a Basilica by his holiness Pope Benedict XV1 on March 17, 2010. The Keck Group was commissioned to restore the pews to their original glory beginning in October of 2014. This is an ongoing project and will be highlighted in future web site additions.

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Keck Chosen for St. John the Baptist Cathedral Pew Restoration

The Keck Group Inc., Warwick and Middletown New York, has been selected to modify and restore the pews at the historic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Paterson NJ. Built by noted architect Patrick Keely in 1865 as a parish church, it was chosen to serve as the Cathedral of the Diocese of Paterson upon its creation in 1937. The Cathedral was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1977. Please view the photo gallery of the removal, and the samples and innovative design of the replacement seat installation, which allowed the conservation of the decades old pews with the comfort of a modern seat. Completion is slated for late 2015.

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Christ Church, Greenwich CT

Josh Branfondbrenner and Amanda Loy are the architects for this very important Connecticut Church which was constructed in 1910. The Keck Group has been commissioned to restore the pews and finish all of the perimeter woodwork in the sanctuary. Additionally, we are refinishing 56 rush seat chairs to be used within the church for various occasions. This project is also scheduled for installation in October 2015.

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Trinity Church

This famous church on the Princeton University Campus is undergoing a total renovation of the sanctuary and chancel, including pews and furniture, paint and decoration, as well as major mechanical updates. Schedule for completion in early November, we are moving forward in conjunction with New Holland Furniture Church Furnishings company in New Holland PA who are replicating many of the onsite ornate paneling which will be finished by Keck personnel on site.

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St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre NY

12/22/15 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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St. Stephen's Church

Our old friend Terry Eason, a Chapel Hill, NC, Liturgical Designer, called upon our expertise to work hand in hand with a major new pew manufacturer to refinish the pews and furniture, manufacture and install new kneelers, and replicate pews and pew ends to round out the new floor plan for St. Stephen's Church in Richmond, VA. The pews were picked up in January, 2015, with the completion date set for November, 2015. The production time was eight weeks, so storage was also on the menu. Terry Eason is a staunch believer in restoring pews and furniture to a natural looking state, i.e., no high sheen, no non-historical stain coloring like limed oak or opaque finishes, with the final product not dramatically different from the original color. In this case, we had 18 replicated pew ends manufactured to remove the hole originally locate to place the heat ducts which were now removed. Additionally, the old heater boxes were removed, and the new kneelers fabricated to reach the pew ends. We took great pride in the restoration of the pulpit; missing hands and fingers were carved, and the entrance steps modified to tie into the new platform height.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross

After 150 years, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is undergoing a much needed restoration. Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Rector Msgr. Kevin O’Leary chose Baker Liturgical Arts of Plantville CT to partake in the historical restoration, who in turn contracted The Keck Group, also known as “The Cathedral Pew Restorers”, to do the complicated refinishing work. Removal of more than three thousand feet of pews took place in April, 2017. The pews were built into the floor, and each and every pew had to be cut flush with the slightly raised floor level under the pews (which will be removed so that there is no elevation transition), leaving almost four inches of the pew ends in the floor. This process will make the installation easier, as the ends will have been previously cut to size. We are removing the existing divider wall and substituting new joiners, so parishioners can slide all the way across the pew, vs. half way. The side aisle pews are also being shortened to make way for the new HVAC system. Installation is planned prior to Easter, 2019.

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