Pray Come In
Thomas Jayne rejuvenates the rectory of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in midtown Manhattan.
Monica Geran -- Interior Design, 12/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
It wasn't decrepit or downright shabby, but neither would it have instilled pleasure in a house-proud host. Yet even modest updating, let alone what self-styled decorator Thomas Jayne calls "wholesale restoration," couldn't have overcome the constraints of the tight budget. Such was the situation facing Jayne at the rectory of New York's Church of St. Mary the Virgin.
His approach was influenced by the ecclesiastical institution's High Church predilections, though his completed scheme conveys a dignified simplicity as well. He resolved, he adds, to respect the 19th-century building's history, reinterpreted to embrace modernity and impart a welcoming aura. Guests at the now-inviting rectory include parishioners, the devout, the poor, and fellow clergymen; social issues, prayers, and entertainment are on the schedule.
The building is a brick structure with ground level, piano nobile, and top floor for the rector's and visitors' bedrooms. Previous incumbents had been content with the milieu; but the present rector made it clear that he'd welcome some decorative enhancement. Remedial steps were burnishing (particularly of oak and maple floors), cleaning (mainly woodwork), and repainting (enlivened with stenciled crosses on walls in the central parlor). Jayne's services and most of the suppliers' products were pro bono contributions. Perhaps most instrumental in brightening the interior scene were the woven silks, damask weaves, and chenilles donated by Mark Pollack. Eye-catchers on the parlor floor include the Gothic Revival brass chandelier, a present from Jayne; the carved mahogany mantel; 17th-century art; and the surprisingly harmonious (inexpensively restored) furniture of disparate vintages and origins.
Rick Ellis, Leigh Taylor, Erik Smith, and Keith Litchman collaborated.