Altar Restoration - CODAworx

Altar Restoration

Submitted by George Hoelzeman


Client: St. Joseph's Catholic Church

Location: Marshall, TX, United States

Completion date: 2011

Artwork budget: $75,000

Project Team


George Hoelzeman

G.R.Hoelzeman Studios


Fr. Denzil Vithanage

Catholic Diocese of Tyler, TX

Industry Resource

Jon Claas

Claas Repair


Charlie James


The historic altar and retable at St. Joseph's Catholic Church was destroyed in 1972. G,R. Hoelzeman Studios designed and created new casements for the existing altars and a reredos based on the original sanctuary structure. The new reredos is 11' wide and 19' tall. In 2014 the side altars were also cased to match the main sanctuary furnishings.


The historic St. Joseph's Church in downtown Marshall, TX was originally built in the 1920's. During modifications of the sanctuary in 1972 the original altar and retable were destroyed. Since the need to restore the original character of the church was paramount, historic photos of the original altar were used to design new casements and the reredos. A particular challenge was concealing the wall damaged by the erection of the arched woodwork in 1972. To accomplish this, the new reredos was designed to be taller and include an arched element. A new ciborium for the crucifix was also incorporated into the design. There was a desire to have a much larger crucifix than the original. The new crucifix was also designed and created by G.R.Hoelzeman. The figure in polychromed wood is approximately 3' tall on a cross which stands about 5' tall.


Critical partners in the collaborative process included the pastor, Fr. Denzil Vithanage, finisher Jon Claas of Maumelle, Arkansas. Faux marble work was done by Charlie James of Little Rock, Arkansas. Sculptor Shelly Kolman-Smith (Poetry, TX) introduced George R. Hoelzeman to Fr. Denzil and together they determined to remove the 1972 structure and recreate the spirit of the original church. Charlie James and Jon Class also used historic photos to match the color of the original marble elements.

Additional Information

The structure was transported to Marshall in two trucks and installed over the course of four days. Because the structure is 19' tall and Hoelzeman's shop is only 14', the first time the entire reredos was together was on site. Parishoners and local construction professionals assisted in the installation by donating time and equipment.