" Miraculous Staircase "

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Project by Arthouse posted 08-21-2013 01:20 AM 10992 views 31 times favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just returned from Santa Fe and want to share this Miraculous Staircase built in the 1879 . The wood is unknown , the craftsman is unknown and why it is standing is unknown. The Legend of the Miracle Staircase started with the Sisters of Loretto built a church but the Architect forgot a staircase to the choir loft which was not uncommon for in those days most used a latter . The Sisters needed a staircase not a latter. After many carpenters and many prayers to there devoted St. Joseph A gray haired man came with a donkey and tool box . Eyewitnesses passed on to others said the only tools he had was a hammer, a saw and T-square. He worked by himself during the christmas season of 1879. Eyewitnesses also said they saw wood being soaked in tubs of water throughout the courtyard. The staircase does two complete 360 turns without a center support and no nails . When Mother Magdalen went to pay him he was gone. The local lumber company had no bill for lumber. Many experts have tried to identify the wood and surmise where it came from. It has been identified as a previously unknown type of spruce with the strength of hardwood but the flexibility of spruce. It cell makeup is a spruce grown at over 10,000 feet which would mean Alaska. Where the old carpenter got that wood is a mystery. The construction after looking at it is like a coiled spring and works like that. When the Sisters walk on it , the weight is transfered to the bottom. I looked closely at the wood and found out the wood was painted over with lime plaster and horsehair. Later the Sisters had it painted over to resemble varnished wood as it looks today. Everyone who visits it is amazed at its wonder and beauty, but no one can explain how it got there and how it stays there . It is truly an inexplicable stairway. All this and Heaven too.

-- "The hand is the cutting edge of the mind but the wind and sun are the healing factors of the heart

39 comments so far

View Gary's profile


9433 posts in 4929 days

#1 posted 08-21-2013 01:27 AM

Beautiful. Cool story. Amazing what was done so many years ago by master craftsmen

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 3320 days

#2 posted 08-21-2013 01:39 AM

That is an awesome staircase and an amazing story. The mind boggles at the building of the staircase, just an amazing work of art in wood and craftsmanship…

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View NormG's profile


6576 posts in 4500 days

#3 posted 08-21-2013 01:46 AM

Now known as the Loretto Chapel, it is a former Roman Catholic Church (convent chapel), but is now only used for weddings and is a museum. The movie The Staircase about 15 years ago is about this very staircase. Before the building was complete the original architect died suddenly. Some say it is a duplicate of a Chapel in Paris. Also they say the carpenter responsible for the staircase is a Frenchman. Who just chance also died suddenly. You are correct it is a very impressive staircase and also one of a very good craftsman

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3788 days

#4 posted 08-21-2013 01:55 AM

Beautiful staircase and story. Thanks for sharing.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5902 days

#5 posted 08-21-2013 02:09 AM

Great post tonight!

I saw this while in High School on a church trip to NM. Growing up with a dad as a woodshop teacher, I saw some incredible woodworking in my, then, young life. I remember being completely blown away then by the stairs and the story. After many years of woodworking now and way more tools than the old gray-haired man had, this project is even more overwhelming to me now.

I was at Boy Scout camp this summer, and one of the boys was telling me about this stairway after seeing it on a family vacation not long back. He knew I would be excited to hear about it, so he told me the story and described the stairs. To see the awe and wonder in his eyes as he explained the story and described the stairway was really cool….better than video games.

When the Master Carpenter works….”How great are God’s riches! How deep are His wisdom and knowledge!”

”Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27826 posts in 4602 days

#6 posted 08-21-2013 02:23 AM

I saw that staircase in Santa Fe. The sisters said it had no railing for many years. It was not made with a railing. They actually climbed that staircase without anything to hang onto. They added the railing later for safety!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 4522 days

#7 posted 08-21-2013 02:56 AM

Amazing story. Thanks for posting

-- Dreaming patterns

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4514 days

#8 posted 08-21-2013 04:04 AM

I saw it last week when we were traveling through New Mexico! You are right that it is an amazing piece of work, I got chills just trying to fathom how the carpenter managed to do a that!!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View raydawg's profile


41 posts in 3528 days

#9 posted 08-21-2013 05:52 AM

do I hear a little Led Zeppelin from this post?

View jeffro's profile


166 posts in 4188 days

#10 posted 08-21-2013 08:29 AM

shut the front door!!!!

-- Jeffro,knockonwood

View clarkey's profile


468 posts in 4552 days

#11 posted 08-21-2013 11:31 AM

AMAZING, The start of the Stairway to Heaven !

View Bluepine38's profile


3393 posts in 4581 days

#12 posted 08-21-2013 02:23 PM

I have heard the story many times, but this is the first time I have seen the stairway, thank you for sharing.

-- As ever, Gus-the 83 yr young apprentice carpenter

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4799 days

#13 posted 08-21-2013 03:23 PM

my goodness, what a marvelous story, i look at this in awe, the kindness and goodness that others give like in this example is something that strengthens my faith …there are many angels upon this earth as well as heavenly ones, no doubt this man resides with our father and his son…his workmanship just overwhelmes me, and inspires me, thanks for this post…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4363 days

#14 posted 08-21-2013 03:27 PM

I have heard this story a number of times. Thanks for the picture.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Greg72's profile


69 posts in 3608 days

#15 posted 08-21-2013 04:02 PM

I have seen this staircase several times and every time I am more amazed by it. Thanks for sharing it with everyone!!!

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