Ascension of Our Lord Church gets painting makeover

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @dvillechief
The Mirandas Painting contractors working inside the Ascension of Our Lord Church in Donaldsonville.

In 1772 the Ascension of Our Lord Church was established in Donaldsonville. During that time there wasn’t much of the parish but a community with a large faith -enough faith to build the church in the early 1800s, which stands today. That same faith remains as the church is undergoing a makeover and is getting its insides repainted.

The project began on Feb. 4 and is expected to take about six weeks from that start time. The church was able to raise $152,000 to fund the project and the after receiving bids from four different contractors, the church’s maintenance committee chose Mirandas Painting, who is based in Baton Rouge. The church was last painted in 1992. Mirandas was the successful bidder in a sealed bid process in front of the committee, and it has up to 10 people painting at one time on any given day.

“The challenge for this church is because the walls are hollow and not insulated, like a modern building, the challenge is to keep a coat of paint stuck to the wall,” Doug Schexnayder said, maintenance committee member. “It will tend to peel and crack because the building is not insulated.”

Schexnayder explained that one can put their hand on the marble and actually feel the cold air coming in and out of some of the cracks and some of the seems in the marble.

Before the Mirandas contractors came in though, the committee brought in factory reps, one from Benjamin Moore and one from Sherwin Williams, to look at the walls. They took samples of the paint chips, sent it to a lab and had it analyzed so they could develop the right kind of paint for this application.

“What Mirandas is using now the manufacturer believes is our best chance for the paint lasting another 20 years,” Schexnayder said. “The goal is to try to make it last another 20 years.”

Schexnayder along with maintenance committee chairman, Marvin Gros, Steve Schexnayder, Raymond Templet, and Emile Spano all are at the church daily while the painting is being done. They see first hand the challenges Mirandas Painting faces.

Getting the paint to stick isn’t the only challenge for the contractors. They also have to deal with 63 -foot ceilings. The contractors use a hydraulic lift to elevate to the high areas and getting the machine inside the church was a task alone. With the removal of some pews and decorations – which all have been taken out and will be cleaned and returned when the project is finished – getting comfortable to do a good job has been treated most carefully.

When the lift elevates, the machine operator also has to dodge the hanging lights.

“They have to be careful all around, especially with the lights,” Emile Spano said, a maintenance committee member. “They haven’t hit anything yet.”

While the church being painted, its Mass services have been joined at the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Smokebend.