My name is Morris LeBleu and I am the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Lake Charles. I was forwarded your e-mail which included questions about the altars in our Cathedral church.
Here is a short explanation contained in a pamphlet about the structure.
The three Gothic altars were installed in 1923 and were originally housed in the Salt Lake City Cathedral. The Cent4ral altar is dominated by a statue of the Blessed Virgin under the title of Immaculate Conception. In the four niches, two at either side, are statues of the Evangelists: St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John. These four statues are of Carrara statuary marble from Italy, the same type of pure marble Michelangelo used in his works.
The south chapel is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the north chapel to St. Joseph. The altrs of plain Carrara marble as is the surrounding flooring in the sanctuary.
The back story, as I understand it, is that a resident of Lake Charles was related to someone in the Diocese of Salt Lake City and may have had an "in" with the Bishop there. The altars and other various accoutrements were stored in a warehouse at the time and a deal was struck to send it to Lake Charles. It arrived in pieces on railroad cars but there were no directions as to how the pieces should fit together. A local stonemason, whose family remains in the business to this day, was called upon to figure out the 'puzzle'.
The church building (that would become the Cathedral of the Diocese of Lake Charles in 1980) was completed and dedicated in 1913, three years after a devastating fire destroyed the previous church, school, and convent as well as a nearly all of the other buildings in the community. It was, at the time, considered one of the finest examples of Lombardy Romanesque architecture in the United States and was dedicated by Archbishop James Blenk of New Orleans. The Cathedral will celebrate its centennial next year.
The church parish was founded in 1869, then named St. Francis de Sales, and responsible for Catholics in a 5,000 square mile area of Southwest Louisiana. In 1927 the church was solemnly consecrated to the Immaculate Conception.
Work is being done now by volunteers at the Cathedral on a more in depth history of the parish and the church. You may wish to contact the Cathedral directly - 337-436-7251 - if you wish any further information. Also, there could be further clarifications to the story on the altars about which I have not been made aware.
Thank you and God bless you.
Morris J. LeBleu
Director of Communications
Diocese of Lake Charles
411 Iris Street
Lake Charles, LA 70601
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Addendum on the missing altars, from the cathedral in Lake Charles LA
Here is a email to a Dr Markey of Portland, a PhD historian who took an interest and made inquiry about the Boise Cathedral altar oddessy history.