another steve s's Blog

A Regrettable Waste of Time
APRIL 19, 2012 4:06PM

New Clairveaux Monastery and Sacred Stones - Update

Rate: 9 Flag

This is an update to a previous post about the Abbey of New Clairveaux in Northern California. The previous post has more information about the abbey.

The monastery has completed the vaulted ceiling for its reconstruction of the Avila chapter house. It is beyond belief. The acoustics are very live.


A closer look at the stone vaulting.

vault 1 

vault 2 

This is an amazing amount of progress since last year, when the arches were supported by medieval-style framing.


Besides the work on the chapter house, nearly everything at the monastery seemed just about the same as last year. I am glad to report the food was a little better this year. I was told the brothers rotate cooking duties and we managed to visit during the right week this time. I hope to visit again next year.

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Although complex in engineering, these simple cut stones and subdued acanthus leaves are so beautiful to me. I really prefer this to any kind of rococo.

Your images may fill the entire column here. Edit in html and substitute "485" as width in pixels instead of the default "285."
Thanks for the tip. You can see a lot more with the photos enlarged. I guess if the masons took th etime to repair all those 900 year old stones, I can take 2 minutes to edit in OS's clunky but manageable HTML editor.

NOVA did an episoda about Gothic construction. Some of it was filmed at this site. You can see the stone mason.
Looks amazing to me; thank you for this, Steve. R
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

Plus, I'm very glad you planned your visit right, from a culinary point of view!
Both trappist places we visit have very basic vegetarian food. Not a lot of unnecessary spices, and they get soemthing sweet at Sunday dinner. The food isn't really a big deal.

They both have peanut butter and their own bread and fresh fruit available all the time. I have noticed peanut butter and yoghurt make up a major source of nutrition for the nuns at Redwoods Abbey.
Where did the 900 year old stones come from?

Of course it's acoustically live. There's nothing to absorb sound and a lot of hard flat surfaces to reflect it. All that ribbing probably helps somewhat, meaning the reverberation won't take the form of well-defined discrete echoes as much as would be the case with flatter, larger, less interrupted surfaces. I hope this isn't a setting where you want to hear speech over long distances. Singing, particularly chanting, sure - plainsong and some choral stuff would sound great in a room like that. If, on the other hand, people want to hear a sermon from more than a few feet away, contact me and I'll tell you the technology you'd need to accomplish that. There is one now that doesn't involve treating the room.
Kosh - You asked a great question with a strange answer.

The history is told here.

The short version

Monastery builit in Avila, Castille (Spain) - 1167
Monastery secularized by Spanish Governemnt - 1831
Monastery falls into ruins - 1831 to 1930
W Randolf Hearst buys monastery, ships stones from Chapter house to CA - 1931.
Hearst domates stones to De Young Art Museum - 1941
Stones sit in a pile in Golden Gate Park - 1941 to 1993
Stones moved to Vina and reassembled - 1994 to present.
Kosh - about acoustics-

I don't know exatly how this building will be used. The building must be open to the public (a condition from the stones' former owners). I don't know if these monks would like to move their church to a nearly public setting. Monks like silence.

We tested the acoustics. The reverb is pretty warm, like you guessed. The smaller size of the structure (chapter house vs church or cathedral) makes the reverb shorter than you would think by looking at the pictures.
You certainly do visit some interesting places Steve. You show a depth I admire.
Another option on the images is to upload them - making sure that they aren't too large - after leaving an opening in your post where you want it to land and "clicking" your mouse at the open line. Then click on the image. Move your arrow over the corner until a diagonal arrow appears, then left click, hold, and drag the corner to the desired width. It will appear to be running over text, but everything will go to the right place afterward.
I've used the other method and have a hard time finding the code in the html for the image. Of course, I have vision problems and that may not be a problem for others.
I enjoyed this. I'm a nut for architectural feats like this.
Great stuff. Thanks for posting this, Steve.