Exhibit logo Virtual
Museum of

Ceiling Construction

For the construction of the ceiling of the Cathedral, Bishop Fleming employed the Conways, a family of masons from Waterford, Ireland. In the years since, the Conway name has become synonymous with the fine artisanship that has gone into building the Basilica. The family still resides in St. John's today.

The Conway's are responsible for the principal decorative feature of the new Cathedral, its Italianate plaster ceiling. Once the roof was slated, they turned their attention to plastering the interior. In the center of the ceiling, the Conways installed five elaborate "pendant drops", decorated with cherubs. Until the fiftieth anniversary of the Cathedral in 1905, the Cathedral's ceiling was flat and white, but Archbishop Howley employed the next generation of Conways, and with local wood carver Dan Carroll and architect Jonas Barter, designed and installed the coffered Italianate ceiling. In 1955, the Rambusch firm of New York executed a scheme of painting, polychroming and gold leaf highlights to the ceiling, giving the effect of a Roman-style Basilica.