The most recent issue of Sacred Architecture Journal is dedicated to Thomas Gordon Smith, architect and founder of the classical program of architecture at the University of Notre Dame, who passed away in June of last year. Readers of New Liturgical Movement may be especially interested in the article by Abbot Philip Anderson of the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Clear Creek in Oklahoma, The Gentleman Architect and the Monks.
“It all began when the small band of black monks stepped off the plane from France in September of 1999, and arrived after midnight at the hilly area in the backwoods of Cherokee County Oklahoma named Clear Creek. As we contemplated the rustic accommodations, made up mostly of a big log cabin and an adjoining horse barn, the challenge struck us with all possible force: how would we ever manage to erect a true Benedictine abbey here? How could we build a fitting place where monks could thrive in continuity with our traditions of some fifteen centuries?
Much was wanting even to begin the process, not only in terms of the financial resources to accomplish our ambitious goal, but, even more urgently, a plan, a design, a vision—and the right man to make it happen. Although monks are rarely up-to-date with respect to current trends of thought outside the cloister, we did know that we must find someone capable of understanding our particular architectural needs, someone with a sensitivity to buildings that would reflect our own aspirations and that would last a long time.
Already a few younger architects, brilliant and capable men, were aware of our coming to America and eager to seize what looked like a golden opportunity. We felt we needed for our project someone solidly established. We had really only heard one name, that of the professor of the University of Notre Dame chosen to build the seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in Denton, Nebraska: Thomas Gordon Smith.”
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