CENTENARY UMC
St. Louis, MO

As part of the redesign and renovation of the front of the historic Centenary United Methodist Church in downtown St. Louis, a labyrinth was included in the plan. It was dedicated to the honor of the retiring minister, Rev. Michael Tooley, who had served the church for a considerable time.

The labyrinth plaza is located right on what was formerly 16th Street (between Olive and West Pine), until the church took over that block-long section years ago. In digging the base, they found hundreds of granite paving blocks from the original street, some of which were used to encircle the labyrinth. Around 30 feet in diameter, the labyrinth is of the Santa Rosa design. (For information, see www.srlabyrinthfoundation.com.) A modern sculpture, designed by the architect, was placed near the entrance to the labyrinth.

The pattern was painted onto the concrete with stain. The project was in the late fall, which caused the church to delay sealing the concrete until the following summer. That proved to be a mistake, as the concrete got quite dirty and the stained pattern sustained a certain amount of degradation. Since developing our all-concrete technology, we no longer suggest staining concrete. The surface was cleaned and the labyrinth re-stained, so that it looked good again. And then it was sealed.

There's more to the story. The stain did not hold up well on this labyrinth. We were sad to see it get degraded again, so we adopted the labyrinth and agreed to upgrade it and maintain it, at cost.

We msked off the pattern and sand-blasted it to remove the stain and resurfaced it with polymer concrete. We then sealed it with two coats of solvent-based sealer. It now looks like the photo below.

Post Script: Being a downtown church, they have active programs for the homeless and the disadvantaged. The labyrinth became a place to hang around, resulting in a lot of litter and the discouragement of some people who weren't sure if it was safe to walk it. As a result, the labyrinth was fenced off and signs were put up to prevent loitering. But think about what labyrinths are all about. Don't you WANT to loiter in a labyrinth? So, without knowing the history and purpose, the photo below seems somewhat oxymoronic.

 

 

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