[originally posted February 2022]
Stickley has shared close ties with Central New York since its founding in 1900, and when Alfred and Aminy Audi purchased the company in 1974 and relocated to Fayetteville, they dedicated themselves to strengthening those community ties. Since then, community involvement has been a priority and a source of pride for Stickley and its employees. In our recurring series “Stickley in the Community,” we’ll share some of our favorite examples, beginning with Stickley’s role in the restoration of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Syracuse.
A massive project of repairs and refurbishment, the $11.5 million restoration of the Cathedral started in early 2016 and was completed the following summer. In addition to necessary structural work and technical updates, new sanctuary furnishings were built by Stickley, including a new “ambo” or lectern, a cantor’s stand, presider’s chairs, deacon’s chairs, and most importantly, the “cathedra” or bishop’s chair.
Designs were a collaboration between McPherson, Simmons Bros. & Sons of New Jersey and Stickley Engineering Manager Jim Rider, Jr., who together created a look that combined Mission construction with the cathedral’s historic Victorian Gothic style. The pieces were engineered and built by a team of Stickley craftspeople (with principal building by Shawn Gillis and Dung Tran) using the materials and time-honored techniques that are hallmarks of the brand.
Solid, quartersawn American white oak was carefully shaped then assembled with mortise-and-tenon joinery. Quadrilinear posts ensured that the dynamic ray-flake grain was visible from every angle. Decorative motifs were precisely carved, and ceramic tiles representing the four Evangelists—made by the historic Arts and Crafts potter Moravian Pottery and Tile Works—were set into the faces of the lectern and cantor’s stand. For the cathedra itself, a wood-inlay coat of arms of then-Bishop Robert J. Cunningham was created and installed by Stickley artisans.
At the completion of the project, the Cathedral was rededicated on September 8, 2017 in a mass presided over by the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy J. Dolan. During his homily, the Cardinal remarked that the new cathedra “is a lot more comfortable than the marble one in St. Patrick’s, Bishop!” In attendance were CEO Aminy Audi and President Edward Audi, who had earlier presented the cathedra as a gift from their family and Stickley.
Two years later, a new bishop for the Diocese of Syracuse was appointed, and Stickley once again made its contribution. A new coat of arms for Bishop Douglas S. Lucia, featuring mother-of-pearl inlay and a variety of wood species, was created. Cabinetmaker Dung Tran completed the assembly and installation of the new crest into the cathedra in August of 2019.
Today, a miniature of the cathedra sits proudly in Aminy Audi’s office as a reminder of this historic collaboration. The real bishop’s chair and all the Stickley-built furnishings can be seen surrounding the altar at the Cathedral, where they are in daily use, and where Stickley’s commitment to its community can be noted by every visitor.
Mrs. Aminy Audi, CEO and Chair of the Board
Long, Katherine. “Cathedral joyfully rededicated following restoration.” The Catholic Sun, September 8, 2017. https://thecatholicsun.com/cathedral-joyfully-rededicated-following-restoration/
Long, Katherine. “Reverencing the past, preparing for the future.” The Catholic Sun, September 5, 2017. https://thecatholicsun.com/reverencing-the-past-preparing-for-the-future/
“The Rite of Rededication.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoGKO-WQNkM