Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe NM, staircase??

Has anyone tried building one like this? I read that the staircase was originally built without the handrails. They were added several years later. Also while in the tourist info it's claimed that no one has figured out how it was done, I read that the inner curve in a spiral acts as the main support, and the outer curve also acts as a supporting spiral. They also mentioned who actually built it. I'm not trying to debunk a legend, I just want to try to build a duplicate. Anyone know where plans are, or so??
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Who built this staircase is unknown. Legend has it St Joseph did.
Ol' Texan wrote:

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There is a short article on the "Miraculous Staircase" in Fine Woodworking #16, May/June 1979, page 34. The article (by Laura Cehanowicz) explains how a retired and arthritic carpenter, Oscar Hadwiger of Pueblo, CO, built several models of the staircase and while researching the structure with the Sisters of Loretto came to the belief that his own grandfather was the builder. In a toolchest that belonged to his grandfather he found a detailed sketch of the staircase and a homemade metal die, which may have been used to make the dowel like pegs used in the construction.
His grandfather, Johon (a German staircase builder) had come to America to try to convince Oscar's father, John, to return to Germany. He was unsuccessful, and while in the Pueblo area heard that there was work in the Santa Fe area, where he went for a few months. When he returned to Pueblo he said that he had built a staircase and did not wait to be paid. He left his donkey and tools with John and returned to Germany. Oscar was 89 at the time of the article (25 years ago).
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Ken Vaughn
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And here's this one too: http://articles.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2843/is_5_24/ai_67691830
Now in an article in the January 2000 New Mexico magazine--"Loretto Staircase Mystery Unravels" by Tamar Stieber--the identity of the enigmatic craftsman has been revealed. Credit for the discovery goes to an "intrepid and highly respected amateur historian" named Mary Jean Cook. She learned of a "hermit rancher," Francois-Jean "Frenchy" Rochas, who lived in "godforsaken" Dog Canyon, nine miles from Alamogordo. Learning that he had left behind a collection of "sophisticated carpentry tools," Cook searched for his death notice, which she found in the January 6, 1896, issue of The Santa Fe New Mexican. It described Rochas's murdered body being found at his isolated rock cabin and described him as "favorably known in Santa Fe as an expert worker in wood." He had built, the brief obituary noted, "the handsome staircase in the Loretto chapel and at St. Vincent sanitarium."
Cook suspects the legend of St. Joseph began with the sisters at the Loretto Academy, "probably in response to questions from their students." However, she observes that "it wasn't until the late 1930s--when the story appeared in Ripley's ... Believe It or Not!--that the story became an icon of popular culture."
Although some rued the debunking of the pious legend, Archbishop Michael Sheehan promised: "It will always be referred to as a miraculous staircase. It was an extraordinary piece to have been done in its time."
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There is a probable suspect, a German stairbuilder visiting in the area at the time. His grandson fouind a sketch of the staircase in his grandfather's old toolbox.
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FF

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Fred the Red Shirt wrote:

FWIW, there was a Skeptical Inquirer article on this with references. <http://www.csicop.org/si/9811/i-files.html
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--John
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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wrote:

times, but this is the first time I've ever seen a photograph. Regardless of how it came to be, it's an amazing work of craftsmanship and art.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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Doug,
I live about 5 hours away from Santa Fe and have seen the chapel several times. My last visit to the chapel was in the fall of 2002 and I took a few shots and posted to this group. I have since removed them from my website, but put them back so you and others can take another look.
The chapel is privately owned today and is attached to an up-scale hotel. Because the chapel is privately owned, photos are allowed in the chapel. The chapel is frequently used for weddings, but staunch Catholics must be married in a local Catholic church, and then repeat their vows at the chapel. The bride and groom (but only those two) are allowed to climb up half way to have their picture taken. The rest of the party must stand at the base.
I was talking to an historian in the gift shop and she said that they are aware of both possible builders (Johon Hadwiger and Francois-Jean "Frenchy" Rochas), and of course the St. Joseph legend, but will take no stand on the subject.
Here are the photos I took in 2002.
Front of chapel:
http://home.earthlink.net/~kvaughn65/chapel.jpg
Full view:
http://home.earthlink.net/~kvaughn65/fullview.jpg
From below:
http://home.earthlink.net/~kvaughn65/lookingup.jpg
Spiral form:
http://home.earthlink.net/~kvaughn65/spiral.jpg
and a photo (reconstruction) to show how it would have looked without the handrails which were added later -- it would scare me to think of climbing the staircase without the rails
http://home.earthlink.net/~kvaughn65/original.jpg
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Ken Vaughn
Visit My Workshop: http://home.earthlink.net/~kvaughn65 /
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[snip]

_Very_ nice. Thanks for the links.

-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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I often wonder if anyone has looked for similar designs? Suspecting that the artisan might have done some others.

That's my bottom line. Breath-taking.
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Thank you for all the good information. I would still like some exact dimensions, and do wonder if similar designs are around? However I think I have enough now to try and make one. With trial and error, it might work, particularly as I want to do one without the railing.
Thanks again.

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The Chapel's gift shop has a report by an engineer that might shed some light.

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