There were two fires at Annunciation Cathedral in 1948.

Fire in the Candle Room.

At the south side of the church outside of the kitchen the forefathers at the Annunciation built small room, approximately eight feet by twelve, up against the concrete wall for the purpose of making candles. It could only be entered from the outside and was also made of concrete. In it was a large metal vat maid to hold wax with a gas line underneath to heat it. Once the wax was hot enough the candle maker would dip a row of strings, eight to ten, into the wax, pull them out for a moment until they cooled then dip them over and over again until the candles acquired the desired thickness. The process was dangerous. If the candle maker did not watch the heat, wax could get too hot and would burst into flame. Evidently that’s what happened in 1948, the room was engulfed in flame.  A day or two after the fire, while on my way to Greek school, I heard that there was a fire in the candle room. Together with other students I went over to the side of the building behind the Colonial Apartments and saw where the side of the building above the candle room was covered with black soot. The candle room was subsequently repaired and candles continued to be made there for many years. Some time in the 1970’s, if I remember correctly, the church began buying candles from a company in Arizona, where as the homemade candles gave off a smoke that darkened the walls, the candles from Arizona burned clean.

The Fire in the Church.

In the same year, 1948, there occurred a fire in the Annunciation Cathedral on the north wall which burned and damaged the painting of saints Peter and Paul. The two saints were painted on canvas within a single frame. On the name day of the Peter and Paul a large candle was placed on a stand in front of the painting. Evidently, the candle fell, or was knocked over, onto the mural and the canvas caught fire, destroying the painting and besmirching the wall. The painting was a total lose. Father Finfinis hired local artists to paint replacements for the painting. The artists were trained in the renaissance style and the new painting with the two saints was very different from the rest of the art in the church. Today you can see the difference by observing the art work in the chapel at the Annunciation.  In the front of the chapel you will see, high in each corner, the two saints painted in the renaissance style, while in the corners in the back of the chapel you will see two older paintings done in the original style of decoration.  

John Vlahos

July 16, 2012

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