On Sunday afternoon, December 16, 2018, the installation of our icon‑screen was finished with the hanging of its final component, the central “holy doors” (or “holy gates”) that were built last week.
As noted in an earlier newsletter, the church’s 1880’s rood‑screen’s adaptation to an icon‑screen, by constructing the latter’s partly open frame immediately behind the rood‑screen, is so carefully designed and so expertly built that the reaction of visitors is—as has been our aspiration—that it appears to have been part of this English Gothic interior since the church’s construction in the 1880’s.
The icon‑screen is of quite heavy construction, engineered to last indefinitely; the ten‑foot chamfered posts are of 4” x 4” clear Douglas fir, with the balance being Southern yellow pine, and all custom stained to match carefully the church’s 1880’s timbers and rood‑screen. The rood‑screen and icon‑screen together are braced by the latter’s particularly heavy new architrave, which is laid horizontally atop the fir posts and so trimmed as to be, from most of the nave, visible neither above nor below the historic rood‑screen’s trefoils and dentilwork courses.
The concept & design and its time & labor through four iterations is a gift to us from the Edenton Historical Commission’s chairman Christopher Bean (by day the recently retired Chief Judge of our seven-county District, but with a long interest in & study of historical church architecture), who patiently & conscientiously adjusted & refined the drawings repeatedly, in consultation with Fr. Benedict and further Orthodox guidance, as well as practical advice from the carpenter, until the design’s final form was achieved.
The months of countless hours of master carpentry are a gift to us from Frank Billek, an engineer who retired to Perquimans, who has been teaching eight years now at the College of the Albemarle, and who did restoration carpentry for us previously at the 1902 railway depot that we rented for the previous ten years.
After countless precise measurements in the church, Frank fabricated all the components in his Bethel Township shop and then transported them into the Edenton church, where it was amazing to watch all the parts immediately fit together perfectly.
Frank’s late mother, Anna Billek, was a member of our St. George’s congregation; and interestingly her father, Michael Holak, had helped build in 1912–1913 the Russian Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist for Anna’s family’s parish in Edwardsville, Penna., which had been established as a mission in 1907 by St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre—who reposed in 1909 and was glorified in 1994 as a saint.
Besides Frank and our members who assisted him, we particularly appreciate the generous construction help contributed by Lenny Mazur, Don Andrade, Brett Butler, Nathan Wilkinson, and Roger Hudson.
* This excerpt is taken from the December 22nd St.George's Newletter written by John Morehead, J.D.