Save on the costs of replacing church pews with professional pew restoration services by The Keck Group. Church pew restoration is more involved than refinishing. In pew refinishing, old finishes are removed and replaced, achieving their factory look with the protection offered by modern finishes. Professional pew restoration often includes refinishing, but also includes modifying older pews to make them comfortable and accessible for today’s parishioners.
Modifying church pews is delicate work. Special care, tools and techniques are necessary for changing the structure of your pews while keeping a uniform appearance. Structural changes to your church pews can include:
- Changing seats: Extending or installing contoured seats.
- Installing exits: Adding joiners to remove divider walls for better access.
- Changing back angle: Re-dimensioning and raising or lowering seatbacks.
Pew Refinishing and Restoration Projects
Pew refinishing and restoration is appropriate for any size project, from a small church to a large cathedral. Since 1972, we have performed church pew refinishing and restoration work in thousands of churches. Over the last five years, our craftsmen have had the pleasure of performing professional restoration services for three major projects in the New York area.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, NY
Known as “The People’s Church,” St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is a national landmark and destination for tourists from around the globe. For pew restoration of this scale, they needed the experts with over 40 years of experience specializing in church furniture restoration work.
We started working on this project in 2013, beginning with inspection and spec writing. Working in tandem with architects and historical consultants, we determined the best course of action for keeping the church open while restoring a large number of pews. Once we decided how to proceed, all of the pews — a total of more than 150 benches comprising over 4,000 linear feet — were removed in sections.
Pews are transported to and from our facility using trailers explicitly made for moving church pews, allowing us to move entire pew sections without further disassembly. Modifications included modernizing the hymnal racks and creating a completely new anchoring system. We also installed various other support systems required for keeping these heavily used pews — accommodating more than one million visitors per year — in excellent physical condition for years to come.
These pews were worn, bearing signs of more than 80 years of continued use. We developed a unique finishing system to fill missing areas and stabilize any future seat loss. For the kneelers, we installed Atwood Hamlin Kneelers, adding form and function. This project required careful attention to historical detail and logistical planning to keep one of New York’s largest churches open for visitors.
Cathedral of Old St. Patrick’s, New York, NY
Old St. Patrick’s was the first Catholic cathedral in New York. The pews in Old St. Patrick’s dated back to the mid-1800s, constructed of pine bodies with walnut capping. In over 160 years of existence, these pews were subject to at least four coats of paint. These coats of paint were so outdated, the first consisted of “milk paint” — paint made from animal blood and exotic additives.
Pews were attached to a divider wall, blocking access and eliminating walk-through capability for parishioners. These pews had an uncomfortable and outdated design, with a 90° back angle perpendicular to the seat. The seats themselves were short in length, adding to their discomfort.
Like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Old St. Patrick’s is a national landmark. Church authorities wanted to restore the pews utilizing modern restoration practices while maintaining the beauty and historical integrity of the original design. Here’s a look at our process:
- We removed all the previous finishes, layer by layer.
- We changed the back angle from perpendicular to a more comfortable degree.
- Pew seats were extended to become more accommodating.
- We installed joiners to allow access, replacing the divider wall.
- The last step before reinstallation included installing lightweight, maintenance-free kneelers from Atwood Hamlin Manufacturing Company.
Trinity Church, New York, NY
Trinity Church was our most complicated project in our 47-year history of performing professional restoration work. We began the planning phases of this project in 2018, with the scheduled completion rapidly approaching. This enormous restoration project involved the skills of more than 100 tradespeople and professionals. Our skilled professionals handled every step from removal to reinstallation.
The pews for Trinity Church date back to the early 1900s, with over a century of wear evident in their finish. These pews were built with high backs, high ends and short seats. They also had a divider wall, a common design choice during the era. Trinity Church is a national landmark and historical building. For these historically significant pews to fit today’s parishioner profile, we incorporated the following changes:
- New joiners: Our team designed, constructed and installed new joiners, replacing the divider wall.
- Improved stability: We incorporated new, up-the-back supports, double cleated for improving pew stability.
- New seating: We replaced the original flat seating with 17-inch contoured seating designed for greater comfort.
- New end pads: Ten new pew ends were installed for use at stand-alone columns, which previously had ends cut in.
- New kneelers: We designed and installed new lightweight kneelers from Atwood Hamlin Manufacturing Company.
- New pews: With the closest attention to detail, we replicated five pews to replace those in the existing small side chapel.
- Modernized pews: We modified the wainscotting to accommodate new heating units, with new attachment cleats designed by our team.
- Lower backs and ends: We reduced the height of the ornate end and bench back both by six inches, leaving no visible traces of the reduction technique.
Contact The Keck Group, Your Pew Restoration General Contractor
As an experienced church pew restoration company, we offer quality restoration services, fast turnaround and affordable pricing. We are happy to restore pews for churches of any size. See what your church can look like with services by The Keck Group. Contact us today for a personalized estimate. For answers to questions about church pew restoration or refinishing services, reach out online or give us a call at (888) 253-KECK today.