2nd Byzantium-style building planned by church
The Westside is known for buildings with historic character, but only one so far is in 12th century Byzantium style. That's the distinctively domed sanctuary for the
Saints Constantine & Helen Holy Theophany Orthodox Church at 2770 N. Chestnut St.
Church leaders are planning to add another building in that style (featuring a use of arches and a corrugated tile roof), which will be a dining hall. Although shorter (19 feet at its peak) and without domes, the new facility's 3,220 square feet will actually be more spacious than the 3,068-square-foot sanctuary. In addition to an eating area, the hall will house an accessory kitchen area, restrooms and a small storage space, plans show.
The location will be behind (just west of) the sanctuary. “It should match and complement the existing structure,” commented the church's minister, Father Anthony Karbo, in a recent interview.
The project requires approval from City Planning for what's technically described as a “major amendment to an approved minor development plan” for the property.
The application to the city includes a request for a non-use variance to allow a 20-foot building setback from Mesa Valley Road where 50 feet is required, the church application states. Based on the plans, the setback need is partly caused by the triangular shape of the 1.75-acre property (resulting from the way Mesa Valley Road intersects Chestnut Street).
Closer to that intersection is the original sanctuary - now used primarily for offices and storage, with the basement serving as a dining area - which Saints Constantine & Helen constructed in a 20th century style when it came to the site in 1978.
Currently, when meals are served in the basement, it's a tight squeeze, Karbo said. The Sunday service is particularly significant in this regard. Attendees fast beforehand, so the post-service lunch represents an “earthly meal after the heavenly meal,” he said.
Offering a form of Christianity especially familiar to Eastern Europeans, the church has about 160 regular attendees, the priest said. The sanctuary's main dome, or “globe,” as he defined it, “symbolizes the heavens and eternity.” Inside the church, looking up 46 feet to the top of the globe, a large image of Christ can be seen, while along the walls at successively lower levels are iconographic illustrations of angels, prophets and saints. A fresco project continues to add religiously symbolic paintings to all the interior church walls, Karbo pointed out.
He has been the priest for 14 years. Using patterns from ancient churches in Greece and Russia, he also led the construction of the sanctuary in 2001. In the years since, he has sought out art and objects to develop a building that, on the inside and out, would “look, sound and smell” like the Orthodox churches in eastern Europe, he explained.
Westside Pioneer article