Welcome to the Conrad Schmitt Studios Blog

Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, Pallium Display, Hubertus, Wisconsin

Posted by Ellen Bley on Aug 18, 2015 9:50:18 AM


Basilica of the National Shrine

of Mary Help of Christians

Pallium Display

Hubertus, Wisconsin


In 2014, Conrad Schmitt Studios was part of a team that designed and fabricated a display case for a special gift from His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan to the Basilica of Holy Hill. Cardinal Dolan was the former Archbishop of Milwaukee, and frequently returns to the area to celebrate the Eucharist and speak to the Catholic community. Last year His Eminence presented the Basilica the pallium that he received from St. Pope John Paul II upon his appointment as the archbishop of Milwaukee in 2003.


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Topics: Projects

Pope St. John Paul II Chapel, Mundelein Seminary, IL

Posted by Ellen Bley on Aug 4, 2015 3:14:00 PM


Pope St. John Paul II Chapel

Mundelein Seminary, IL


The Conrad Schmitt Studios completed the design, fabrication and installation of nineteen new stained glass windows for the Pope Saint John Paul II Chapel at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, IL. Working closely with Father Robert Barron and Dr. Denis McNamara to develop the designs, the windows depict saints of the Catholic Church, incorporating symbols and imagery significant to their lives.

Fr. Barron envisioned the chapel to serve as an inspiration to generations of seminarians and a physical embodiment of the New Evangelization. This emphasis on spreading the Gospel through new media promulgated by John Paul II is a key philosophical movement in twenty-first century Catholicism and a cause dear to Fr. Barron. The saints represented in the windows of the chapel were important intercessors for John Paul II, as well as influential evangelizers. Prayerful devotion and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament are also common elements in these saints' lives.



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Topics: Projects, Traditional Stained Glass

Ryan Concert Hall, T. Furth Center for Performing Arts

Posted by Ellen Bley on Jun 10, 2015 12:51:00 PM


Ryan Concert Hall

T. Furth Center for Performing Arts

Trine University, Angola, Indiana



Housed in the former Angola Christian Church, Trine University's T. Furth Center for Performing Arts is resplendent with rich furnishings of classical architecture including gilded ornament, marble, chandeliers, and paintings. An important resource for the students of Trine University's music and theater programs and the community at large, the Furth Center features state of the art performance equipment and a refined ambiance. The Center's Ryan Concert Hall is reminiscent of an Old World Theatre. A highlight of the Ryan Concert Hall is the central dome which features an original mural designed and executed by Conrad Schmitt Studios in collaboration with Dr. Tom Tierney, the Director of the Humanities Institute at Trine University.



 The mural is a playful homage to art history, performance, and Trine University values. It seeks to educate and delight the viewer. Mythical and historical patrons of the arts, music, and theater are represented as golden statues, painted in their own classically inspired niches: Pope Gregory the Great, composer Johann Sebastian Bach, Roman goddess Minerva, and Greek god Dionysus. The mural also features figures such as St. Cecilia, patron saint of music, and Mnemosyne, mother of Muses and patron of memory.



The mural is full of humor and wit. The figure of a student in a Trine University sweater appears to be praying but is really texting, and imminently tumbles over the balustrade, while Minerva, goddess of Wisdom, looks on in silent judgment. The text-messaging Sophomore is saved only by Mercury's wings that appear - a clever play on the "Messenger of the gods." In the highest reaches of the dome, a winged putto peels back the intricately painted mural to expose a brick wall beneath, playing with the mural's frequent use of trompe l'oeil to fool the viewer's eye.



The use of Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian capitals, several types of arches, and various wings on the mischievious putti are all references to changing styles throughout the art history canon. All together, the Ryan Concert Hall mural is an entertaining and inspiring piece that captures the soul and wit of the community and its engagement with the arts. You can read more about it on our website at: http://www.conradschmitt.com/portfolio/projects/?projectid=2232.


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Topics: Projects

Broadmoor Resort, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Case Study

Posted by Ellen Bley on May 11, 2015 10:48:57 AM


Broadmoor Resort

Colorado Springs, Colorado


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Topics: Projects, Broadmoor Resort

Basilica of St. Josaphat Case Study - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Posted by Ellen Bley on Mar 5, 2015 2:31:10 PM


Basilica of St. Josaphat

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


In 1996, Conrad Schmitt Studios completed an extensive restoration of the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was an especially significant project for the Studio, since CSS had completed the original decoration of the church in 1926. This project sought to restore the magnificent space to its historic scheme, which included stencils, gold leaf, and murals painted by notable Roman artist Gonippo Raggi.



Five conservators spent 30 days investigating the original decorative scheme. Once the surfaces were documented, 1,100 frames of scaffolding were erected and the interior restoration began. The Studio used several decorative techniques throughout the space, such as gilding, glazing, marbleizing, stenciling, and trompe l'oeil painting.

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Topics: Projects

Paramount Theatre Case Study - Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Posted by Ellen Bley on Feb 27, 2015 10:26:00 AM


Paramount Theatre

Cedar Rapids, Iowa


After being inundated by eight feet of floodwater in 2008, the Paramount Theatre, listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, needed extensive repair and restoration. A detailed analysis of the theatre determined the original scheme as well as the painting and plaster techniques. The comprehensive efforts of CSS artisans to return historically accurate grandeur to every surface of this beautiful theatre including gilding, glazing, stencils and trompe l'oiel. More details on the project case study are available on our website at: http://www.conradschmitt.com/portfolio/projects/?projectid=214.


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Brookside Bass Mansion Case Study - University of Saint Francis

Posted by Ellen Bley on Feb 13, 2015 12:44:00 PM


Brookside Bass Mansion

University of St. Francis

Fort Wayne, Indiana


John Henry Bass built the Bass Mansion in Fort Wayne, Indiana during the 1880s as the centerpiece of his country estate. After fire destroyed the first home, he rebuilt in 1903. The mansion contains elaborate stenciling, murals, decorative plasterwork, intricate woodwork, fine artwork, valuable antiques and elegant furnishings. Each diversely themed room presented a unique challenge in terms of existing condition, decorative style and the lack of clues left behind to guide an accurate conservation and restoration of the original decoration. In honor of Valentines Day, we are showcasing photographs of The Rose Room in this blog post. Additional photographs of other spaces in the mansion are available on our website at: http://www.conradschmitt.com/portfolio/projects/?projectid=165.

Conrad Schmitt Studios' restoration of the historic Bass Mansion, or "Brookside" as it was originally named, includes period conservation and replication of the ornate decorative painting and stencil work. The comprehensive restoration and of original and elegant new decoration celebrates and revives the Bass Mansion's unique decorative and cultural legacy.


The Louis XIV Drawing Room, fondly nicknamed "The Rose Room"


The Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration bought the home from the Bass family in 1944 and relocated their college. Since 1944, the mansion has served as library and residence to the college. Virtually all traces of its former glory have been worn out or covered over by decades of utility, inconsistent decorative restoration and spotty repairs.

Restoration challenges cropped up early. After jute and linen was removed, considerable wall preparation was required to remove adhesives before a polymer fiberglass wall system, primer, and finishes could be applied. Jute and linen encased the plaster walls on each of the three stoires. The once abundant and inexpensive materials have lost favor because of their short life span, lack of availability and high cost. Flat plaster walls and ceilings received Hallman Lindsay Polymer Wall Restoration System (fiberglassing).


The Louis XIV Drawing Room, fondly nicknamed "The Rose Room"


Next, an extensive series of decorative samples illustrated bow restoration and conservation would bring original decorations back to life. Decorative samples foster the support needed to ensure a successfully completed project. In the case of the Bass Mansion, the numerous samples throughout this restoration including, patrons, the architect, and Conrad Schmitt Studios.

Historic black and white photographs revealed the central ceiling mural in the first floor Meeting Room had been painted over at some time in recent history. The photos served not only as a glimpse of what once was, but to the Studio's modern artists, a vision of what would again be. The canvas was removed and cleaned of layers of paint, revealing the original scene. Badly deteriorated mural fabric forced painting a new mural on canvas and installing it back to its original intent.

The Moorish Room contains two original decorative stencils. The gilding and glazing of the ceiling cove and upper wall stencils had drastically muted with age. Compounding the issue, inappropriate paint color had been cut into the ceiling stencil. The paint color was corrected and each stencil replicated to bring out the beauty of the original decoration.


The Louis XIV Drawing Room, fondly nicknamed "The Rose Room"


Original murals surrounding the Dining Room were conserved and finished with a reversible barrier varnish. Exposure windows revealed the cove stencil, ceiling and molding decoration had been altered by a pastiche of decorative attempts throughout the years. The existing stencils (oak leaves and acorns) remained in good condition but required conservation-grade dry cleaning. The hand-painted foliage and fruit were dry cleaned and hand-highlighted. The stencil directly above the murals and the matching ceiling stencil were conserved. Molding on the ceiling was decorated with a color scheme that included thin lines of 23 3/4 karat gold leaf.

The elaborate wall stencil running throughout the second floor hallways and original base color had been painted over with a modern color. Several exposures uncovered a large, three-foot high intricate stencil comprised of glazes and highlights. Stencils were hand-designed, hand-cut, and hand-applied. CSS replicated the stencil design throughout the hallway and on the upper rotunda of the stairway.

Historic photogrphas played a major role in guiding this restoration and conservation. Photographs of the Ballroom were the only source to confirm the elaborate assortment of ceiling and wall stencils throughout the room. After an unfortunate fire, the decoration was substantially reduced. Apparent water damage repairs have further reduced the decorative sheme. The ceiling stencil decoration that surrounds the rotunda and the stencil applied to the panel below the wall frieze were restored based on the influence of historically accurate original decorative schemes uncovered throughout the mansion. The Rotunda mural had been painted over with a significant lack of artistry. CSS conserved the historic mural depicting a host of dancing women.

Before Conrad Schmitt Studios was hired to amend the architectural arts within this structure, the interior had become a mismatched collage of styles and varying quality.

Today, mural conservation, stenciling, tromp l'oeil, glazing and gilding adorn the hallowed halls of the restored Bass Mansion.

Also available on our website at: http://www.conradschmitt.com/portfolio/projects/?projectid=165.


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Topics: Projects

Rotunda Dome Restoration Complete

Posted by Ellen Bley on Nov 4, 2014 1:13:00 PM

Conrad Schmitt Studios recognized at dedication ceremony 

On Saturday, November 2nd, the South Dakota State Capitol celebrated the state's 125th anniversary of statehood and the completion of their monumental stained glass restoration project. The event featured a performance by the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and addresses from Governor Dennis Daugaard and State Supreme Court Justice, David Gilbertson.

Kevin Grabowski of Conrad Schmitt Studios accepting a commemorative plaque

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Topics: Projects


Posted by Staff Writer on Oct 30, 2014 11:43:00 AM


What our clients say matters most.

For over 125 years, decorating church interiors has been an integral part of the Conrad Schmitt Studios identity. These projects remain some of our most fulfilling work. Increasing the aesthetic appeal of a worship space has a dramatic effect on the community.

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Topics: Projects, St. Peter Catholic Church, Omaha, NE, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Erie, PA, Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, Abbeville, LA, St. Genevieve Catholic Church Lafayette, LA, Rennovation, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Rise and Shine: Capitol's Stained Glass Reinstalled

Posted by Ellen Bley on Sep 17, 2014 1:17:00 PM

South Dakota Capitol Rotunda Dome

Stained Glass Restoration


Rotunda Dome - Stained Glass and Stenciling

Craftsmen from Conrad Schmitt Studios are installing the recently conserved stained glass windows in South Dakota’s State Capitol rotunda dome. Passersby, including the governor and lieutenant-governor, gazed upward to watch the 64 curved panels of colored glass rise through the air in mesh nets. In this video from Keloland news, CSS Project Director Kevin Grabowski discusses the challenges of working on these fragile, antique panels.

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Topics: The Capitol Building, SD in partnership with Sharp, Projects, South Dakota Capitol Restoration, Stained Glass Renovation