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You perhaps have heard of it, the staircase at Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where -- according to the literature -- nuns who operated a convent there began a novena to Saint Joseph, patron of carpenters and builders, when they needed a way to easily traverse up to the choir loft, which previously had been accessed by ladder. Their dilemma was that there was no room for a stairway as normal stairways go. A flurry of carpenters they consulted had said so
According to accounts, on the last day of the novena, a gray-haired man came to the convent with a donkey and a tool chest -- basically, a saw, a hammer, and a square. He also needed tubs to soak wood. They gave him the job, and he set about the work on July 25, 1873, taking what is now estimated as six to eight months to complete it. Only wood pegs (no nails) were used. And the result was exquisite.
"The winding stairway that the old man left for the sisters is a masterpiece of beauty and wonder," noted St. Joseph Magazine. "It makes two complete 360-degree turns. There is no supporting pole up the center as most circular stairways have. This means it hangs there with no support. The entire weight is on the base. Some architects have said that by all laws of gravity, it should have crashed to the floor the minute anyone stepped on it and yet was used daily for nearly a hundred years." Indeed, there are photos of the staircase filled with members of the choir!
When the sisters went to pay the man, continues the account, he had vanished. There is no record of paying anyone a penny for the incredible piece of carpentry.
Originally posted by Deebo
Very neat story, that is amazing. Even more mysterious that the man "vanished". Good find op.