Pretty Picture
Columns faced with Scagliola
Decorated with stylized acanthus leaves

With the first glance of the nave, a visitor is struck immediately by the colorful interior and the richness of detail in the decoration.

Thomas F. Houghton, the gifted architect of our parish church, gave astonishing attention to the minutest details of his design. There is no feature, both of the structure and of the decoration, which did not receive his full and careful consideration.

The parish is blessed that so much of that glorious vision was achieved and that in every part the church of St. Francis Xavier retains its original form.

It is a gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art, of the highest order. Throughout the tour, there will be references to his original designs- the parish has 142 of his drawings - and to those elements of more recent date.

The interior reflects the polychrome taste of the period. In contrast to the cool gray of the walls and ceiling, the rust and gold columns stand out with a warm tonality.

Each of these columns is faced with scagliola, a special plasterwork material that simulates the appearance and texture of marble.

The scagiola columns at St. Francis Xavier are superb examples of this demanding architectural-artistic technique. Their coloring matches the pillars and columns of the altar.

Notice that each of the columns is surmounted by a foliated capital of stylized acanthus leaves. Interestingly each of these capitals is unique; they are variations of the same theme, but no two are alike.