CHURCHES
AND THE USE OF STRUCTURAL GLUED LAMINATED TIMBER

St. Stanislaus Catholic Church completed a dance hall in 1935 at Hofa Park, Wisconsin, framed in southern pine glued laminated gothic three-hinged arches. The arches are still in excellent condition and the building continues to be used for church picnics and wedding dances.

The first religious sanctuary in America to utilize glued laminated timber was St. Leonard Catholic Church in Laona, Wisconsin. It was designed by Max Hanisch, Sr. in 1936. Two architects who embraced this technology in those early days were Alfred H. Siewert of Milwaukee and Edgar A. Stubenrauch of Sheboygan.

By the 1950's, approximately 75% of all new religious buildings in the U.S. were framed with structural glued laminated timber. This high market share can be attributed to the strength, beauty and economy of well-designed timber systems.

Radial, parabolic and tudor arches would follow, with longer spans, soaring majestically and in a variety of shapes and sizes. Straight and curved beams, cambered, single tapered or double tapered, and pitched and curved beams became popular and would give more freedom in design.

There was no need to hide structural framing; no added expense of a false ceiling in churches. The warmth and economy of timber, fully exposed to view in the interior of the building, was available. Fabrication and prefinishing at the plant would provide rapid jobsite construction, minimum maintenance for the structural wood system and enhance the beauty of the wood.

Long-span timber trusses, as used in bridge and industrial construction, have been adapted to church roof framing. Parallel chord, pitched, and scissors trusses have become quite common. Span lengths have increased when glued laminated members, in combination with connecting steel and hardware, form structurally sound and pleasing-appearance trusses.


 
St. Mary Catholic Community, DePere, WI
St. Mary Catholic Community
DePere, WI (Town of Ledgeview)
Birschbach & Associates, Architect
Miron Construction Co., Contractor

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