Bishop's Damaged Chair Is Unique - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/08/03

Bishop's Damaged Chair Is Unique

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Savannah, dominant in the historic downtown. WTOC spoke with one of the ladies who spent about two years helping with the renovation of the cathedral. The Needlepoint Guild played a big role in making the cathedral the beautiful place it is, and volunteers like Lois Haslam are taking yesterday's arson to heart.

Haslam was shocked when she saw on the news that her hard work had gone up in flames. "I was devastated," she said "They first showed the pulpit and that was horrible, then I saw this fellow holding a cushion." The back cushion of the bishop's chair is badly scorched, the seat destroyed, and Haslam had fashioned both for her friend, Bishop Boland.

"I knew him well and I thought we'll give him something to sit on when he's up there," she said.

Lois has been creating needlework masterpieces for more than 30 years, and for at least seven years for the church. While she enjoys the hobby, it's time consuming, especially elaborate projects like cushions for the bishop's chair. "It took me a year and a half to two years to finish each one," Haslam said.

Police have the cushions as evidence, but you can still see the damage from the fire on the back of the bishop's chair. While the cushions can be replaced, they'll never look the same. The designs were original, hand-painted on canvas. "The back seat had the diocesan crest and the background was worked," explained Haslam. "Actually, the design on the seat cushion was picked up on the marble on the floor."

The Needlework Guild will likely take up the project again, but it may be a different artist this time. "I don't know whether at this stage in life I could do another two or not," said Haslam.

If you'd like to help the Needlework Guild by volunteering or making a contribution, contact the Diocese of Savannah at 201-4100.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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