Thursday, May 28, 2009

Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, NM

Our first site-seeing stop was the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe. It is a small church built in the 1870 with a miraculous spiral staircase. When the chapel was built, the builder did not build a staircase to the choir loft. The church was too small to build a normal staircase. The sisters prayed that somehow, someone would be able to design and build a staircase. Their prayers were answered when a man stopped by and built the staircase. The staircase does not have any nails in it. This is a beautiful church. Cost was $3 to view the inside of the chapel and staircase.

Loretto Chapel.

Spiral staircase leading to the choir loft.

The staircase was originally built without bannisters. No nails were used in building the staircase.

Posted by Picasa


Jim said...

More recent studies show that there is very little that is "miraculous" about the staircase[6]. It is arguably unsafe since its helix shape makes it oscillate just like a very large spring. The railing, too, was a subsequent addition. As to its apparent ability to stand without a central support, this argument proceeds on a faulty premise that all spiral staircases need a central support. In fact, they do not, and lateral or outer supports work just as well. However, this staircase does have a concealed central support, an inner wood stringer of a very small radius that, because of its small size, functions effectively as a central pole. This technique is well known. The staircase also has an additional outer support to one of the columns that support the loft. The staircase is made of spruce, but insufficient sampling makes it impossible to conclusively affirm (or deny) the source of this wood.

Anonymous said...

I've seen this beautiful work of art several times. It's mere architecture may not be "miraculous" but the sense of wonder it conveys is nothing less...